TALES FROM HUMBER: Getting COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic was holiday shocker

Feb 16, 2022 | OP-ED, Tales From Humber

The arrival and check-in Punta Cana went smoothly and the 32 C heat was, well, a welcome relief from the cold of Toronto.

But when I woke up the next morning I was freezing. I felt like every part of my body was ice cold. I figured I was only cold because of the air conditioning, but I continued to be chilly until around 2 p.m.

As the day progressed I developed a runny nose and a slight cough. Maybe it was just temperature shock, I said to myself.

The days following the feelings of being cold went away but the runny nose and cough stayed. Nevertheless, the fun continued and we were having a great time.

Two days before leaving we got our PCR COVID-19 tests done. My partner and friends all got their results, which were negative. I did not get my results.

Later that day when getting back to my room the phone rang. I picked up and the person said, “hello, I’m the resort doctor, can I speak with Mr. Roy?”

I knew exactly what this call was about.

“We regret to inform you that you have tested positive for COVID-19,” the doctor told me. “Someone will be at your room in 30 minutes to move you to the COVID-19 facility where you will stay and quarantine.”

I was in absolute shock, I never thought this was going to happen. I was distraught and scared. I was panicking while waiting to be moved because I didn’t know what was going to happen.

To make the situation worse, the day that this was all happening was my partner’s birthday, and we had planned a surprise dinner at the resort’s steakhouse with cake, balloons, tequila taste testing and a band to sing Happy Birthday.

Finally the hotel staff came and guided me to a new room in the building where people were quarantined. If there was an upside to all of this, it was in the V.I.P. villa of the resort.

I was isolated, stuck in the room alone, and everything I needed was brought to me. I was told that after five days of quarantine, the doctor will come and perform another COVID-19 test, hopefully being negative to go home.

Thankfully, I was told by hotel management I did not have to pay any additional costs to stay there. Isolated. Alone. Quarantined.

The next day my partner and friends flew home and I was left behind.

The five days that followed consisted of Netflix and ordering from a limited menu. I am thankful they brought me food whenever I wanted, but the only options we had were a vegetable sandwich, nacho chips with cheese sauce, a fruit dish or a slice of raspberry cheesecake.

Day five arrived alone with COVID-19 test day. At this point I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas by myself in the room, so I was praying for negative results.

The results were still positive and I faced another five days of quarantine. If the second test comes back positive, then I would receive a travel letter that exempts me and I can return to Canada to finish my quarantine at home.

The next five days were the same thing and I was very bored. After my COVID-19 test on the 10th day I knew I was going home anyway, but I was nervous about it being positive. I didn’t know how I was going to get the exemption letter because I had a difficult time communicating with the doctors, who mostly spoke Spanish.

I questioned everything while I now also spent New Years Eve and Jan. 1 alone.

In the afternoon of the 11th day I received the email with my results and my heart was racing. The results were in Spanish but the only thing in English said, “COVID-19: Undetected.”

I had the biggest sigh of relief, I was finally negative. I was so ecstatic that I could finally go home.

I bought my plane ticket for the next morning and everything went well flying home. I heard about random PCR testing for international arrivals at Pearson Airport, so I expected to be chosen, especially after just having COVID-19. Oddly enough, I wasn’t chosen.

Immigration went by very fast and they did not ask me questions other than where I was coming from that day. I was able to get home and celebrated a belated birthday and Christmas celebration with my partner.

Having lived through this I advise anyone who is wanting to travel during these times to really take all factors — including the expense and being quarantined alone — into consideration. I’m not saying not to go, because we all still need to enjoy our lives, but be aware of what could happen.