Virus strands 19 Alaska residents in Peru, senator says

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska At least 19 Alaska residents are stuck in Peru due to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said.

The U.S. Embassy in Peru said the country has closed its borders to all international travel, KTVA-TV reported Monday.

The Republican senator spoke with families worried about their loved ones who cannot return to Alaska from Peru and other parts of the world, she said.

Murkowski and Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan are working with the U.S. Department of State to address the stranded travelers’ situation, she said.

Officials expect there will be upcoming commercial flights out of Peru and flights chartered by the state department, Murkowski said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority of those who are infected recover.

Travelers should register with the state department’s Smart Travelers Enrollment Program, which allows federal officials to contact and provide transportation for people trying to get home, Murkowski said.

Family members or Murkowski’s office can help register travelers in the program, she said.

“We know the anxiety that this is causing families and concerns from those who are in Peru and other countries,” Murkowski said. “We are working aggressively on it. I urge you to stay in close touch with my staff as we move forward.”