A young Italian national arrived in Greece to celebrate the completion of his final year final exams, but the results of the most recent ‘test’ he took, reversed his immediate future as he became a case of Mykonos Covid and have demonstrated the health gaps of the Greek government authorities as new coronavirus cases triple in the country as tourism peaks.
Scheduled to return from Mykonos on July 16, a positive Covid-19 test suspended the 18-year-old’s travel plans for 10 days and worse, with no accommodation to quarantine and recover.
The normal protocol for those who test positive for Covid-19 is to receive notification from the clinic or doctor’s office where the test was administered. The clinic communicates the results to the National Organization of Governmental Health Services (EYOPP) along with vital statistics and contact details of the individual. Under normal circumstances, the individual is contacted within hours of the results being communicated. EYOPP then gives instructions and advice to the patient.
EYOPP is asking residents of Greece to self-isolate in their homes and share information with the organization of anyone they may have been exposed to the infection within their close circle of friends and family. For 10 days, the service monitors the patient by calling them to check for symptoms such as fever and blood oxygen levels. They are also trying to confirm that the individual is back in quarantine. Tourists who test positive for Covid pose the additional problem that they cannot isolate themselves “at home”. Therefore, the government has created “Covid hotels” so that visitors can self-isolate in the place where they were tested.
Italian in Mykonos with Covid finds himself homeless
Lorenzo, who chose not to use his real name to protect his privacy, spoke with Greek journalist about his experience of being forced into self-quarantine by the authorities but at the same time being “homeless” and without advice.
Lorenzo and his friends had arrived in Mykonos just as the government issued new security restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19. A day earlier, mingling and dancing in public places had become an offense with fines across the country as the government tried to stop a rise in Covid cases. The group of Italians arrived in Mykonos with Covid on the rise and no legal opportunity to mingle or dance.
After a weeklong stay in Mykonos with his group of eight friends – a mix of boys and girls – the classmates went to a local clinic to get tested for Covid-19, according to government protocols, demanding proof of a negative test for the new coronavirus before taking their flight back to Italy the next day. Lorenzo appeared to draw the short straw in the group of nine. He was the only one to have tested positive following the rapid test, making him a Mykonos Covid case.
Lorenzo wanted to take another test, to confirm that the results were no accident. He and his friends had been to the same places at the same times and it seemed incredible to him that only he was exposed and infected.
In disbelief in the face of positive Covid results
âI couldn’t believe it at first. I thought it was a mistake, a joke. We had all been in the same places together, but I was the only one in nine of us to be positive, âsaid Lorenzo. Greek journalist. He did a quick test and asked for a second 24-hour PCR test, but the clinic refused. He said they insisted their results were not wrong.
He added that what made the circumstances even more incredible was the fact that he had been vaccinated. âI received my first injection of Pfizer vaccine a few days before we arrived in Greece. I was supposed to have the second shot on July 17th. Instead, I don’t get it but I’m stuck in Mykonos with Covid, âLorenzo said.
Lorenzo was able to stay in the accommodation they had used for the trip for an extra day when he learned of the positive results.
His friends returned to Italy the next day as they left all the accommodations they had stayed in for the week’s vacation. Lorenzo made the effort to book himself in other accommodations for the next few nights but found himself empty. Mid-July is the marker of high season in most of Greece and especially in Mykonos. There were very few free places.
Lorenzo was outspoken in his search for a place to stay. When he found a vacant position, he informed the management of the establishment that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and that he needed a place to quarantine himself. Every possibility turned out to be a negative answer. No one wanted to offer their hospitality to someone with Corona.
The young man consulted the website of the Italian Embassy in Greece following the positive test, in order to understand how to proceed. He said the embassy responded to his email request within hours. EYOPP had still not contacted Lorenzo by nightfall.
As a âsickâ traveler, he chose to go to the Mykonos health center, baggage in hand, to ask for help. His initial request to reception staff at the island’s medical center put him on hold, outside the health center, on a bench. Emotions swept over the boy as it seemed like he had nowhere to go and would sleep on the street.
An elderly local man found the boy in a state of tears and distress and appealed to local media – Mykonos Live TV – about the boy’s plight. Finally, the director of the Mykonos health center, Dina Sampsouni, was informed. At 10 p.m., Lorenzo was allowed to stay overnight in one of the few rooms reserved for patients.
EYOPP takes 48 hours to contact the patient
EYOPP finally caught up with Lorenzo, 48 hours after his positive test results. EYOPP had arranged a place to stay for Lorenzo on one of the islands designated Covid Hotels for the duration of his required quarantine period – an additional seven days. He was in the accommodations, which overlook one of the island’s beaches. The hotel offers him meals in his room and EYOPP is in regular contact with him to monitor his symptoms.
“I was asymptomatic, I didn’t feel anything different from the day I arrived,” said Lorenzo Greek journalist. “Now I feel extremely tired, possibly from the stress of finding out I had Covid and had nowhere to go, even though a symptom is tired.”
The young Italian said he was extremely grateful both to the local old man who showed him so much compassion and to Sampsouni for breaking the rules and allowing him to stay overnight at the health center. âShe was extremely kind to help me and the gentleman, who found me so sad and crying with nowhere to go,â said Lorenzo.
Currently, he has not shown any symptoms other than fatigue. Following his experience he said Greek journalist âMaybe I didn’t pay attention to the little details. We went to places where there were a lot of people and we were so happy to have fun and go out again. We need to be more careful, so as not to help spread the disease, to protect ourselves, our family and our friends. “
Lorenzo said two of his friends got Corona three months ago. Their symptoms were mild and did not require hospitalization. He did not know anyone who had died from the virus. He said: âWearing a mask, especially when others are not, is helpful – it protects you and others. Even if you are in close contact with others, you are protected.
Next week, Lorenzo will move into his hotel. He will spend his days until the end of his quarantine and he will be able to return to Italy, with Netflix, talk on the phone with his friends and family and take notes in a journal about his experience. In the fall, he will begin his first of three years at university studying management science and hopes to continue pursuing a master’s degree.