“We’re guilty, we’re at fault for leaving. That’s it, I’m saying it clearly,” Antoine Stefanelli, one of the French tourists stranded in Costa Rica since January 25, after having tested positive for Covid-19, reports Rfi.fr.
The group, made up of 22 retirees from La Poste and the Orange group aged “between 60 and 77”, had left the Lorraine region (eastern France) on January 16 for a ten-day trip to Costa Rica.
In an interview with BFM TV on Friday, Antoine Stefanelli says he is “at the end of his rope”, having “sent a distress message to the (French) embassy” to obtain medicines for his wife and having received a simple “e-mail address” in return.
“We are pensioners,” he added. “We saved up for a year to pay for a nice trip. It was clear that the agency would maintain the trip. The trip was maintained. If you don’t want to lose everything, you have to come”.
🗨 “Moralement les gens n’en peuvent plus”
Antoine est l’un des 16 touristes français bloqués au Costa Rica, il témoigne pic.twitter.com/E5mB8wnMQx
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) February 12, 2021
Replying to the Tweet, Melanie Alexandre said, “I live in Costa Rica and I can tell you that this retreat group has been taken care of very well! the hospital conditions are excellent! they arrived with the covid is although they assume and they have patience, they will leave when they are negative!”
Tristian 6K said: “I refuse that my taxes be used to repatriate French people who went on vacation to Costa Rica in the midst of the pandemic. During this time, we work like morons and we are confined from 6 p.m. …”
Six people of the group of French tourists are hospitalized, of which three are in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), two of them in serious condition, according to Guy Poirot, one of the group members and who is now calling for help from the French authorities.
The other three, including Guy Poirot, have seen their state of health improve and have been admitted to a facility for patients with milder symptoms.
“I have been told that I will need another 7 to 8 days to be tested negative,” a condition for returning to France, Poirot commented.
Initially, six travelers, then a total of twenty tested positive after their scheduled departure on January 27 was postponed due to stricter health standards for entry into the Netherlands, through which they had to transit.
Only two members of the group were able to leave. Four others followed via Madrid, Spain.
For the ten remaining travelers who tested positive but who did not suffer severe symptoms, they are quarantined in hotels at their own cost: the $2,000 for accommodation, covered by the insurance required by Costa Rica to enter the country, has now been exceeded.
“The trip had been planned for more than a year” and the pensioners would have lost “between 60 and 70%” of the price of the stay paid to the travel agency Couleurs du Monde if they had given up going, Poirot explained.
“The Moselle (where the travelers come from) is one of the regions most affected (by Covid-19): there is no need to travel to find oneself in this situation,” justified Poirot.
On social networks, many Internet users questioned the “irresponsibility” of tourists, who have left in the midst of the pandemic. It has not been possible to determine whether they were infected in the country or whether any of them were already carrying the virus before their trip.
Costa Rica only requires covid insurance for entry
To encourage the resumption of tourist activity, Costa Rica has not required visitors to take a negative PCR test since October, although they must take out insurance to cover medical and accommodation expenses in the event of contagion.
After registering just over 1,000 daily cases of Covid-19 in early January, the number is now less than half, hospitalizations are down and the deaths due to or associated with Covid are now in the single digits.
As of Tuesday, Costa Rica, with a population of 5.1 million, has accumulated 200,454 confirmed infections, of which 165,439 have recovered and 2,737 deaths.
Meanwhile, France, with a population of 65.3 million has recorded 3,489,129 infections, of which 244,238 have recovered and 82,812 deaths, according to Worldometer.