MIAMI, United States. – Three Canadian tourists who traveled to Cuba on vacation and tested positive for COVID-19 experienced “a nightmare” in the isolation hotel to where they were assigned, according to the Canadian press.
Laurianne Gagné, a 22-year-old woman, told the newspaper La Presse that one day before her programmed departure from the Memories Caribe Beach Resort, a four-star hotel in Coco Key, she tested positive for COVID-19. “I panicked. I was given no instructions, so I went to my hotel room to isolate myself,” she stated. The next day, hotel authorities told her that she would be transferred by ambulance to another facility. “I didn’t know anything else,” she said.
After her friends and fellow travelers, who tested negative for COVID-19, returned to Canada, she was alone in her room for close to 12 hours. At night, administrators for Memories Caribe Beach Resort picked her up and place her in the back of an ambulance.
“It was dark, I didn’t know where I was; I only saw men walking next to the ambulance. I was crying. I was so scared,” she continued. Right after that episode, she arrived at the Playa Paraíso Hotel, where other women from Quebec also were waiting to be admitted.
The three women were transferred to a small, two-bedroom apartment. “It was an unpleasant atmosphere. Everyone was upset, scared and worried. It was not a safe place. We placed a chair against the door. We were worried and our families, too,” said Gagné to La Presse.
The young woman complained that in her hotel room there is neither soap nor toilet paper. “We were asking for it for days,” she stated.
“It looked like an abandoned place. There were spiders all over my bed,” added Audray-Ann Lapointe, a 19-year-old woman who was placed in isolation in the same hotel.
The three tourists received meals at random and had no Internet access to communicate with their families. “It was a nightmare,” said 21-year-old Guylaine Pellerin. “There was garbage everywhere,” said the young woman, who compared the hotel with a “small prison.”
Likewise, they lamented the lack of water and the deplorable food. “We had only one bottle of water per day, and we had to fight for it,” according to Lapointe. “Our lunch this morning was like a hamburger or meatball, pinkish in color. It wasn’t cooked.”
The three women interviewed by La Presse stated that Playa Paraíso Hotel was full of Quebec residents who were coronavirus positive. Each tourist must pay US$ 150 per day for lodging and food.
“At the end of my isolation period, they charged me for a medical exam that I was never given,” complained Audray-Ann Lapointe.
When they arrived at the Playa Paraíso Hotel, they were promised daily testing until the viral load was low enough to allow them to return to Canada. However, they were administered only one test every five days.
In Laurianne Gagné’s opinion: “It seems that they did it on purpose to retain us there for a longer period of time. That’s why they refused to test us.”
After hearing that some individuals were bribing the health workers for negative results, the three young women took a risk and offered money to their attending physician. This was followed by an incident of harassment.
“He said he did not need the money, but that he would accept a kiss instead,” Gagné told us.
In addition, the three young women deplored the lack of honesty on the part of the travel agencies regarding the epidemiological situation in Cuba. “My travel agency, Voyage à Rabais, told me that there were no COVID-19 cases there, that the problem was in Quebec. We got no warning, we absolutely did not expect what happened,” said Guylaine Pellerin.
“Sunwing was telling us that there were no [COVID-19] cases in Cuba, but there are outbreaks in every resort. They lied to us,” adds Audray-Ann Lapointe.
In conclusion, the three women’s recommendation to other Canadian tourists is clear: cancel or postpone your trip to Cuba. “If I had known things were going to go this way, I would have never gone,” states Lapointe.
Finally, Laurianne, Guylaine and Audray-Ann were able to return to Quebec on January 3rd.
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