Amy and her daughter began their evacuation in PSA on February 9 with a 45-minute speedboat ride from the resort to the airport near the capital, Male. They boarded a twin-engine Hawker 800XP jet that had the stretcher, medical equipment, toilet, and seven seats. Along with them were two nurses and two pilots who were able to disembark with refueling stops in the United Arab Emirates and Greece during the 16 hours it took to get from the Maldives to Ireland.
From Ireland a second ambulance and a third crew flew to Canada and finally to the United States. They arrived on February 10th, three days after their originally scheduled return flight date. Amy tested negative throughout the trip, and her daughter tested negative before getting on the ambulance and returning home again.
The extra stay at the resort, plus phone calls and the cost of returning luggage since the plane was too small to carry, cost Amy about $ 11,000. If she hadn’t bought Covac’s coverage, the repatriation would have cost about $ 200,000, said Thompson, whose company also conducts evacuations for a fee.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has referred questions about the frequency of repatriation of Covid-19 positive people to the State Department, where a spokeswoman said these statistics are not being collected. She said those who test positive for the virus overseas “should prepare to stay overseas for an extended period and see a local doctor”.
Scrambling to find care
When a person gets sick far from home, even speaking the language, knowing what to do in the midst of an evolving crisis is daunting. “If you do decide to take the risk, especially a trip to a strange place where you have no one you know, you have a plan just in case,” said Christian Arellano. “What affected us most was creeping. To find out where to go, who to talk to, where to get the medicine, where to stay, ”he said.
When the Arellanos first felt sick, they went to a medical clinic where a doctor said they had asthma. A second doctor finally diagnosed Covid-19. Christian Arellano said that despite his mother’s illness, she “walked across town to get all the medicines, thousands of dollars just for medicines”.
As the situation worsened, the couple called the US consular office in Oaxaca, which said there were no hospital beds available in the area. They suggested an oxygen tank. When Mr. Arellano’s condition worsened, the couple spent $ 25,000 on a Mexican ambulance to take him to the Naval Medical Center in La Jolla, California.