Utah Couple Stranded In India During Second Wave Of COVID-19
May 9, 2021, 6:08 PM | Updated: Jul 11, 2023, 8:12 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — A couple has been stranded in what has been labeled as the epicenter of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak — India — while they wait for her visa to be signed.
Eric and Norvina Shearer are in New Delhi, India’s capital, where they said a second wave of the pandemic blindsided the country and has crippled their efforts to get to America.
“Almost overnight, it just exploded,” said Eric Shearer.
Sunday morning, the Indian government reported nearly 4,100 more people had died from COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, though the actual death toll is widely believed to be much higher.
“It’s hard to get a positive result when you can’t even get tested,” said Eric.
“They are burning everyone, basically,” said Norvina Shearer.
Eric and Norvina Shearer spoke to KSL-TV from their place in New Delhi. They said smoke of burning bodies was visible throughout the city.
“They are burning so many bodies, and lots of people outside and everywhere is full of chaos because of COVID,” she said. “They are not saying it’s Hindu, it’s Christian, it’s Muslim. They are doing it with everyone. They are burning everybody basically.”
Eric Shearer is a Utah County native. He moved to India in 2018 to marry Norvina.
The couple was separated in 2020 when borders shut down as he briefly returned to the states.
He finally returned to India in April 2021, just before a second wave of the pandemic hit, so he could be with Norvina through the visa process.
“I am free to leave the country whenever I want, but I came here to be with my wife, and I’m not going to leave her here alone in this mess,” Eric wrote in an email to KSL-TV.
The original plan, Eric said, was to fly to India, get his wife, then fly to a separate country to do her final interview there. But immediately after they arrived, they were “hit with several emergencies,” including an urgent medical issue for his father-in-law.
“We had to stay to take care of it,” Eric wrote. “Our plan to smoothly get out of the country fell apart as countries closed their borders to India. I obviously didn’t know that going in, nobody did.”
The couple said a strict lockdown kept the first wave in check.
“As soon as this happened at the beginning of 2020, I was worried to death about India,” said Eric. “I just thought it was a ticking time bomb, but India did a really good job at first. They did a complete lockdown.”
But then, medical critics said the government leaned into a false sense of security, claiming they were in the pandemic’s “endgame” and ignoring warnings about a second wave.
“They are completely overwhelmed, and basically every hospital we’ve seen says no bed, no oxygen,” said Eric.
The couple said their aunt was on a waiting list to be admitted into an ICU unit.
“One place told us you can come here, but you’re not going to get a bed until someone else dies,” said Norvina.
The couple said they were one five-minute interview away from getting Norvina’s visa signed to come to America, but with the Indian health ministry warning about a third wave, they’re not sure when that will happen.
“They are just so overwhelmed,” said Eric. “It needs international help at this point.”
The Shearers said Utah Republican Rep. John Curtis stepped in to help them find their paperwork after it was lost at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Texas, but they’re hopeful someone can get them an interview for their visa.