Many Americans abroad rushed home as the COVID-19 pandemic exploded globally, but one man traveling in Egypt found himself lumped in with a group who tested positive for the virus and found himself quarantined abroad.
Matt Swider, the managing editor for TechRadar, was overseas for the annual Mobile World Congress trade show, which was ultimately canceled due to the novel coronavirus. As he was wrapping up his trip, his plans changed.
“We were doing some last-minute shopping on the way to the airport and then we got pulled back for what seemed like a precautionary check,” Swider told Cheddar Friday.
There is some confusion about what happened next: Swider says his initial test came back negative, but after the paperwork returned it indicated he had tested positive. Once it appeared he had the disease, he and others with the infection were taken to a remote hospital in the northwestern part of the country.
“It was a scary feeling hearing that I was negative then all of a sudden 25 minutes later they said ‘Hey you’re in the positive group you have to be ushered to this military jet,’” Swider said.
While being cared for in a ward with other patients who were sick, two more tests came back negative, so Congress and the U.S. Embassy wer able to help him return to the U.S.
“I was more likely to get sick there than actually better,” said Swider.
However, as one of the early potential cases flagged, he said one of the most unnerving aspects of the ordeal was the lack of clarity about how to handle the situation.“I think the scariest part was we were among the first cases or the first cases en masse and they didn’t know what to do with us and how to let us go and howmuch time to really keep us quarantined.”