Widowed and quarantined in Peru: Calgarian fights COVID-19
CALGARY -- A Calgary woman who just lost her husband is now quarantined in a makeshift Peruvian clinic after testing positive for COVID-19.
Ruby Choi and her husband Chun went on a group tour vacation to Peru at the beginning of last month.
The trip was supposed to last until March 19th, but on the 16th, the country issued a nationwide lockdown. Borders were closed, and eventually, the Peruvian government stopped helping other nations repatriate their citizens.
It’s a complicated situation that has left hundreds of Canadians scrambling to get on flights home this week but Choi’s story got complicated long before she was able to try and get home.
Her husband, Chun, fell ill last week.
She says he started to cough and complained it was getting harder to breathe. After seeing a doctor, the 68-year-old Calgary man was airlifted to a health facility in the nation's capital Lima.
On Monday, he died.
Doctors said it was due to heart failure.
After Chun’s passing, things got even worse when Ruby tested positive for COVID-19.
She was immediately placed into a makeshift clinic and that's where she's been ever since.
She told CTV News the amount of information she receives is limited, but she fully expects to stay in the clinic for at least two weeks.
"I want to go home," she said, drawing attention to her living quarters. "Here there is just a bed, not even a pillow. The washroom has no toilet paper. Finally we have hot water, but they still haven’t given me towels to take a bath."
Making matters even more complicated, Choi has diabetes and is stuck without vital medication.
"I just want to have my medicine," she said. "I ran out two days ago and I keep telling them and they don’t take it seriously. They haven’t given me anything today and I’m really worried about it."
Back home, family members are working to bring Choi home.
They’re also concerned about Chun’s death.
Christina Hagerty, who knows the family and has two aunts on the same trip, says the heart failure explanation from doctors confused her. However, the group has yet to receive any more information or even a copy of the death certificate.
"If the deceased had COVID and Ruby has COVID, that would mean my two aunties have COVID," Hagerty said. "The scary thing is that that would mean the hundreds of people they were around the two weeks prior also have COVID."
The majority of the tour group is now back in Canada, but Hagerty's two aunts have yet to make it out of Lima.
She says they were pulled off a flight at the last minute, and says embassy representatives have been hostile towards them.
She believes it‘s because they are Chinese.
"This woman basically took them out of line and was really aggressive," Hagerty said. "She said, 'You go into this hotel and stay here in your room and if you leave, we’re going to put you in jail.'"
Neither woman has been tested for COVID-19. How long they’ll be under isolation in Lima is unclear.
Hagerty is furious with the process and says Canadian authorities aren't helping either.
"The embassy isn’t doing its job trying to contain COVID," she said. "Ottawa honestly needs to send their own people to go there. That’s it, that’s all."
Choi's situation is changing every day, but when she spoke to CTV News, her coughing was frequent and uncontrollable.
"I’m really feeling bad about it," she said. "But I still have to keep telling myself to be strong because I have three sons in Calgary."