A pair of Kiwi medical students feel "forgotten, alone and unequipped" after becoming stranded in Peru on a placement.

University of Otago students Shamus Moffatt and Connie Wan were in Trujillo, Peru, for their medical elective placements when the Peruvian government locked the country down on March 16.

All travel is prohibited until at least April 12, Moffatt said.

The pair are becoming "increasingly concerned" that when Peru's travel restrictions are lifted, no flights will be operating to get them home.


"Being at the medical school here and watching all the other students being repatriated to their countries, we feel forgotten, alone, and unequipped among an already frightening situation," Moffatt said.

Shamus Moffatt (left) with a group of his fellow medical students from other countries in Peru. Photo / Supplied
Shamus Moffatt (left) with a group of his fellow medical students from other countries in Peru. Photo / Supplied

Only two other students from Germany remain to be taken home, but Moffatt understood an effort to get them to their own country was in the works.

Although they were glad their fellow students had been taken home, they were getting frustrated at their "lack of options" and clear communication about whether the New Zealand government would help them.

"There is also the sad thought of missing the opportunity to come home and help the medical effort in New Zealand," Moffatt said.

"We are already considered part of the essential medical workforce, and students in our year of training are permitted in hospitals because of this.
There are already talks about fast-tracking us through our training so that we will be more able to assist on the front lines.

"Knowing that we have no choice but to stay here and wait, when we could be actively contributing to the pandemic efforts, is discouraging, to say the least."

Wan said the fact they cannot do clinical work in Peru added to their frustration of not being able to contribute to Covid-19 efforts.

"It's stressful and frustrating not knowing when we'll be able to get back home," she said.


"The other medical elective students have been repatriated to the US and UK, and while it's nice to see our friends safely back home, it's difficult being the only ones remaining without a clear plan ahead."

They are currently under a curfew with their host families.

Communication with the New Zealand embassy and SafeTravel had been "frequent", but not particularly helpful, she said.

"They've mainly just been repeating information we're already aware of, or that doesn't apply to us.

"We're aware the NZ government has said that mercy flights are not guaranteed. We appreciate that the embassy is working on options for Kiwis in Peru. However, there hasn't been any clear, direct message regarding what's going to happen."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website