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Nguyen works to repatriate U.S. citizens from Peru during COVID-19 wave
On a normal day, U.S. Consular Agent Marian Han Nguyen’s duties in her sleepy one-woman office in Cusco, Peru, range from stamping passports to registering American babies. But when Lima announced it was closing Peru’s borders on March 16 to stop the spread of coronavirus, Nguyen’s job changed overnight to Lara-Croft-style bounty hunter. She had 24 hours to track down an unknown number of Americans trekking the Incan ruins of Machu Piccu, a five-hour train ride away, so they could escape before its airports shut. Then she had to figure out how to get anyone else left home.
Nguyen reached out on social media groups for U.S. trekkers and handed out her personal cell number to just about any American who called or emailed. When authorities shut down car traffic, Nguyen, five months pregnant, walked roughly 45 minutes each way to her office through the high-altitude Andean city, negotiating police checkpoints. Eventually, she helped some 1,300 Americans return on 10 chartered flights. She and her husband are staying put, as are the 30 or so Americans she keeps in touch with still in Cusco. And at the six-month mark of her pregnancy, she tries not to overreact if she coughs or sniffles.
Update: We heard from Marian in late May, and she and her family are doing fine. Her baby is due in August!