A couple’s return from a recent trip to Mexico turned into an ordeal they will never forget after testing positive for COVID, but what happened after that left them worried for their lives. travel companions.
Nick Perri says he and his girlfriend recently took a five-day trip to Cancun, but just days into the trip they started coughing and feeling congested.
“We just thought it was a cold,” he said.
Perri says he and his girlfriend are fully vaccinated and strengthened against COVID-19, and when they were preparing to return to the United States, they took rapid COVID tests in accordance with American policy. These tests came back negative.
Just to be sure, the couple both wore masks on their flight home on Sunday.
“We were coughing. We wore masks, but frequently took them off to blow our noses,” he said. “It was a full flight, and hardly anyone was wearing a mask.”
When they returned home to the suburb of Batavia, they took further COVID tests. Perri tested himself twice, and both tests came back positive. His girlfriend, who was still experiencing symptoms, tested negative.
“We don’t know if it’s past the contagious stage, but I’m in the throes of it,” he said.
Perri says the first thing he did after testing positive was to call Southwest Airlines so the company could do contact tracing.
Instead, Perri says the company rejected him.
“She put me on hold for a few minutes, then said ‘tell your doctors you have COVID,’ and that was it,” he said. “Nothing else happened.”
Perri says he was shocked the company didn’t tell him it planned to conduct contact tracing, telling other passengers that someone they had traveled with had tested positive for COVID.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines told NBC 5 it is still following CDC reporting guidelines for COVID-19 and has a contact tracing policy in place.
Doctors say what happened to Perri and his girlfriend is an all too common occurrence. PCR tests are more reliable and accurate, and are the best way to ensure the safety of travelers and their traveling companions when traveling abroad, experts say.
“Those traveling internationally should take a PCR test at least 48 hours before travel and then use layered mitigation strategies, including masking,” said Dr. Jay Bhatt of the Family Christian Health Center.
Doctors say that if you can’t find a PCR test abroad, the best thing to do is to test several times with rapid test kits before boarding a plane.