(Østlandets Blad): On Friday 17 December, the family from Vinterbro began their journey towards Thailand, with expectations of a few days of sun, summer and beach life after a new Corona year.
The flight was booked this fall, while all seemed well, long before Omicron showed up and new, intrusive measures came into effect here at home.
Before the trip, the family made a number of preparations; He abandoned the fun activities for the kids, took the youngest out of the SFO, and were generally wary. Negative PCR tests were taken on Tuesday before departure, and she was tested again at the airport when she landed in Thailand.
– We arrived on Saturday, December 18, and did a PCR test, said Selge Howell Nikolic in a chat on a messenger from a hotel room in Phuket.
That same evening, the PCR test for the nine-year-old son turned out to be positive.
– We were told that the youngest had to be kept in isolation in the hospital for ten days. It was a shock to us. The authorities wanted him to isolate alone without us, but it was not appropriate to have a nine-year-old child alone in a hospital in Thailand. So we chose to join.
He was taken to the hospital by an ambulance lit up with a full blue light, but not until the next day.
– He only had a slight fever and passed out. It cannot be defined as sick. So it was violent, she says.
They were taken to the back of the hospital, where a lady in full infection control equipment was ready.
– She circled behind us in the hallway, and when we got up there was someone new who was going to blur behind us in the elevator. It was totally wild. We were led into a locked dormitory, and there was a clear message that he was not allowed out again through the door.
There they were placed in a room.
– The room is nice, it’s a private hospital that we ended up in. But it’s closed, and we don’t have a chance to get out. I’m not sick and I feel crazy. I wear a face mask all the time and sleep with it at night. I spray and shower, and I feel paranoid. It’s a violent experience. There were many difficult times. She says there is a time when we can move, but there are other Covid patients, so I don’t dare go out there.
They wouldn’t travel if they knew
She says they have received no information from the travel company TUI that they risk a 10-day isolation in hospital if they become infected.
When they booked the ticket, they were set up for 24 hours in quarantine at the so-called SHA+ hotel, the approved quarantine hotel, and booked the entire stay at that hotel. The condition was that the adults were fully vaccinated, that all had PCR-negative samples no later than 72 h prior to departure, and that they had a new PCR test upon landing.
– We thought if we got infected, we would isolate ourselves in the hotel room. There was nothing about any hospital stay. We had the impression from TUI that it was safe to come. Had we known we would have to go to the hospital if we got infected, we wouldn’t have left.
According to Hoel Nikolic, TUI later added to its pages that if you test positive at the destination, you should be isolated for ten days in a hospital or hospital with regular checkups until it is confirmed that you no longer have covid-19.
She says they did not receive any help from TUI.
– But the insurance company does everything they can for us, and we figure things out in the end.
Away, aloof, alone
While she and her youngest son were in hospital, the man and her eldest son were quarantined in a hotel room, so they didn’t enjoy the sun and the beach outside. Although both tested negative. On Christmas Eve, they did a new PCR test. At nine o’clock on Christmas evening, they were informed that the eldest son had tested positive.
Then they sat in seclusion and planned what to do when they got out. Then they got this answer.
The 11-year-old was also picked up by an ambulance, and his father chose to join him.
– He had childhood asthma, so we’re a little concerned about how to deal with it. So we thought it was the safest. On Tuesday, my youngest son and I can go back to the hotel, but my husband and 11 year old are still here. It ruined the entire holiday, but the worst thing is that we are cut off from each other, she said.
High on the list is the fear that she or her husband will be infected as well, which means another ten days in isolation. It also says a hospital spokesperson has given notice that parents must be quarantined for 14 days after children are discharged from hospital, but this has yet to be confirmed.
– We hope the embassy will clarify this, and if this is true, we will not return home until January.
outbreak at school
The children are students at Sjøskogen School, where the disease broke out before Christmas. On December 21, the municipality of s announced that a micro-infection had been confirmed in the school.
We can’t tell if that’s what the kids have, but I think it could be. She says they have mild symptoms.
She is critical of the fact that the school was open even though there was a lot of infection there. Before the end of last week, parents were told that everyone should come and take exams and get their kids tested.
– But it’s already too late, she points out.
– There are a lot of injured, and I wish they had not delivered the children so much. Children infect each other. We didn’t get a lot of infections around us, and there wasn’t much at work nor at school. We didn’t know there was such a big outbreak at school. Had we known, we would have taken the kids out of school much earlier. There’s a lot to get frustrated with, and we’re not alone in ruining Christmas. People are tired, looking forward to the Christmas holidays and their holidays. I myself work in the school system, and we agreed 24-7. Then we received this slap in the face.
– How did the children take it?
– The eldest took it very seriously. He sat in isolation first, then was told about Corona on Christmas Eve. it is so difficult. We made plans to celebrate Christmas Eve at home on January 2, and we saved all the Christmas gifts. It doesn’t look like that now, but we haven’t given up, and hopefully the embassy can help, so he can go home at that time. Then eight days passed, and as to the Norwegian point of view, he came out of solitude. So I hope it will be resolved. Otherwise, he and my husband are scheduled to fly home on January 3.
– I think it is important to warn others, that they at home should know how we feel. It’s not just what we experience, and I want others to not experience the same thing. It’s so horrific. Now I hope we can go home as soon as possible.
– This is not what it should be
Nora Espengren, Director of Communications in Norway at TUI, received the story and criticism from Silje Hoel Nikolic. In an email to ØB I wrote:
So sad to hear that this family had a vacation experience, and that we didn’t provide the service they could expect of us. That’s not how it should be, and I’m so sorry. I have reported to my colleagues in Phuket now and expect to do something about it.
Regarding information about local rules and guidelines, you mentioned the following:
We share information on our information pages on an ongoing basis, and it is important that travelers know what applies at all times. Things can change quickly as here at home. We relate to the information provided by the Thai authorities and update both the sites and via information messages to customers. I myself was in Phuket a couple of weeks ago and saw that things are working fine. But it’s important to stay informed, especially during these times.
It spreads quickly
ØB also asked the head of communications for Ås municipality, Morten Ellingsen, why the Sjøskogen school has not been closed in connection with the outbreak there.
Tell ØB that the municipality makes its decisions based on the information that is available at all times. The infection spreads quickly, and omicron is detected even later.
He says the school has always had a case of infection that the municipality has deemed justified, and has followed the yellow standard after reintroducing this.
– There were no reasons for closing that school to fight infection. There is often a lot of disease in the winter, and since many of them have been vaccinated and many have mild cases, we considered that there was no basis for closing the school.
In the end, it was decided to create a digital school, based on the challenges of employment.
He says information about the infection status at the school has been sent to parents on a transceiver.
According to Ellingsen, the municipality has been conducting ongoing assessments of the infection situation in Ås throughout the fall.
– With infection rates on the rise, the municipality has been constantly assessing whether it was dramatic enough to implement the measures. On the other hand, there are consequences of measures. There are very negative consequences for children and with schools closed, it means that parents have to be at home. We assumed throughout the fall that we wanted to create as normal a daily life for children as possible. We consider that all interventions are negative for children. National actions have been put together to protect children and young people, and more have been put on adults.
Sjøskogen school principal, Catherine von Borat, told ØB that there were infected children and adults at the school in December, and that this was communicated via a transmitter to parents in steps related to confirmed infections. In this regard, rapid tests were delivered.
When it comes to information, the school has its procedures.
– When I was notified by the mayor about a confirmed infection with omicron, I informed the staff first, then the parents. Then the municipality published it on its website. Everything went in this order. There we have our procedures, to try to take care of everyone.
Regarding family in Thailand, she says:
– It’s so sad that they experienced that. I have a great understanding that it is very sad.
Chief Municipal Doctor Udni Delen commented on Omicron in Sjøskogen on the municipality’s website before Christmas.
– We don’t have a complete overview of how many have a delta variant and how many have an omikron in Sjøskogen, and we hardly get that either. For now, the delta variant is dominant in Ås, but we expect omikron to be dominant in the community within a few weeks, he said, among other things.
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