British Columbia

'It's scary': Canadians trapped abroad worry about making it home during pandemic

For a Vancouver couple trapped in Cusco, Peru and a Kelowna, B.C., couple quarantined on a cruise in the middle of the Pacific, getting back to Canada feels like an impossible task.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned Canadians that they may be stranded

Christina Radvak, 28, and Keegan Kent, 29, say the can do nothing but wait and see if help will come for them. The couple are currently stuck in Cusco, Peru while the country is on lock down during the coronavirus crisis, preventing them from getting to the airport in Lima to get on a repatriation flight to Canada. (Christina Radvak)

Ottawa is sending planes to bring Canadians home from Peru but trapped Vancouver couple Christina Radvak and Keegan Kent aren't expecting to be on one.

The duo have been stuck in the city of Cusco since the country closed its borders because of coronavirus fears on March 16. Unable to make it to the airport in Lima, they pair have no idea when they will make it back to B.C.

And they are not the only ones.

Kelowna couple Al Janusas and Heidi Adhofer are on what feels to them like a never-ending cruise on Holland America's ship, the MS Maasdam.

The ship left Auckland, New Zealand March 1 and was expected to end in Tahiti March 15. 

But the cruise ship and the couple are still somewhere in the Pacific after three ports refused to take the ship because of coronavirus concerns.

"The one bright light that is keeping people's spirits up on board...we will have been isolated for 14 days and there have been no infections on the ship," said Janusas.

Heidi Adhofer and Al Janusas are currently stuck on a cruise ship in the Pacific that has been refused harbour at three locations because of coronavirus fears. Tahitian and Hawaiian officials turned away the vessel, and all passengers aboard. (Al Janusas)

So far, said Janusas, the ship was refused in Tahiti and two harbours in Hawaii. Now the plan is to take it to San Diego, which Janusas says doesn't seem foolproof.

"With three ports so far turning us away, and the state of California in lock down, I don't know how they are going to work this," he said. 

Janusas is desperate to dock, especially after scrambling every time he thought it would happen to find flights home from wherever he and Adhofer were told they would be disembarking.

Now that Canada and the United States have limited commercial flights, Janusas doesn't even know if flying home will even be possible.

Meanwhile, Radvak, speaking to CBC's The Early Edition Tuesday from an Airbnb rental she and Kent are packed into with seven other people, is certain no plane is coming for them.

"It's scary," said Radvak, who fears the longer the two of them are stuck, the greater their risk of getting the virus because of their close living quarters.

She said their medical insurance expires at the end of the month and she is worried about the quality of health care in Peru.

Watch Canadians in Lima, Peru preparing to leave the country:

Hundreds of Canadians, stranded when the country closed its borders to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, are now preparing to leave. 1:17

The Peruvian government has ordered a country-wide lock down, enforced by police in the streets, and there are no planes or buses the couple can take to get to Lima to be able to board a Canadian-sent plane.

"It's very strict here, it is a very extreme environment," said Radvak.

She said she has emailed Global Affairs Canada, the Canadian Embassy and members of Canadian parliament but so far have had few responses, none of them that give her reason to believe she and Kent will be rescued.

There are 4,300 registered Canadians in Peru, according to Global Affairs Canada.

On March 17, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  warned Canadians that they may be stranded abroad.

"There are three million Canadians at any given moment around the world, living and working, and I think it is just realistic to know that there are some of them who will not be coming home in the coming weeks," he said.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

With files from The Early Edition and Tom Popyk

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