Border Closures Separate Mother From 3-Year-Old Son Amid Coronavirus Crisis
Monday - 23/03/2020 16:17
As world leaders try to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, countries across the globe are rapidly shutting down their borders.
Imani Bashir thought she’d seen it all.
A 33-year-old American freelance travel writer who has been to over 30 countries in the last four years, Bashir is an expert in navigating the ins and outs of travel vouchers, or obtaining an emergency passport for your newborn son.
But in the last few weeks, Bashir, mother to a 3-year-old, found herself in a situation she’s never been in before.
As world leaders try to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, countries across the globe are rapidly shutting down their borders. More than 130 countries have implemented new severe travel restrictions including reducing entry and exit for foreign nationals and citizens and enforcing heightened screenings at all points of entry ― all in efforts to contain the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, from spreading.
Last week, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 Travel advisory that urged Americans not to travel overseas and to return to the United States if they can. The advisory came weeks after the Trump administration announced further travel restrictions, including the suspension of travel between Europe and the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S.
Consequently, there are thousands of Americans stranded in countries across the globe by these border closures. Students studying abroad, tourists on vacations and expatriates like Bashir have found themselves in limbo, unable to return home.
“It’s the most surreal thing because we lived in the center of this while it was developing and before it had a name,” Bashir told HuffPost. “For it to follow us, it’s so depressing and it’s so stressful.”
Last year, Bashir and her family moved to Wuhan, China ― where the virus was first detected late last year ― after her husband, an international football coach, was hired to train the Wuhan Gators. The family was on vacation in Malaysia during the Chinese New Year when Bashir received a text from her landlady warning her of a new type of pneumonia that was spreading, later to be confirmed as COVID-19, infecting those in the area.
It became clear that Bashir and her family could not return to Wuhan. The family gave up their home and all their belongings there, and were left with with just their vacation luggage.
“That’s one thing that a lot of people really don’t understand because they’ve just been in one place dealing with [the outbreak]” said Bashir. “But for us, this has been since December 2019.”