Personal experience from the government provided quarantine in Slovakia
When 2019 was about to end, I got to hear from various sources, friends or memes that for the past few centuries, ’20s were marked by terribly huge pandemics or outbreaks. 1720 marked with bubonic plague, 1820 cholera, 1920 the Spanish flu. And here we are hundred years later, wondering what went wrong.. again.. Some are stating it’s a man made disease, some that it was caused by a Chinese guy eating a bat. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the cause of this whole situation, as it doesn’t matter anymore.
Today, I wanted to talk about my personal experience in Slovakian government-provided quarantine. As far as I’m concerned, this type of quarantine is provided only in Thailand and Slovakia (correct me if I’m wrong).
Our story began in UK, where we’ve all been studying. After several of our flights been cancelled over time, our hopes of returning back to Slovakia/Poland were greatly reduced. After tons of phone calls, and web searches I managed to find a financially available solution with mostly low risk. We had to travel to London, then fly to Berlin and have a friendly taxi drive down to the polish borders, and later on through the entire Czech republic, all the way to Slovakian borders.
That’s where the quarantine story begins. Crossing borders was the beginning of our “adventure.” Right after that the border police had to take our ID, name and surname, they pointed at a nearby crib (used to be part of border control), that we have to wait for out transport over there. “In case you want water or go to toilet, it’s all here.” Waiting got longer as the timer passed 2 hours of waiting, we had no idea where we’ll go, and what will happen. Soon enough, one of the cops came to us and revealed our destination, and that the ambulance car will arrive within the next 30 minutes. In the meantime we noticed another girl, which got ID-ed and sent to another crib.
When the ambulance finally arrived, we got to get our luggage in the trunk, along with the girl we got to see before and another older fella that arrived very shortly after her. So we were expecting 2.5 hour long drive at 10 PM, after 17 hours of travelling already. Luckily for us, the drive was quick, everything around was dark and there was nothing to complain about. Still, locking backwards I think it was efficient to transport 3 separate “groups” in one vehicle, sitting closely next to each other, but on the other hand risky, as in such small space it could crawl to other passengers fairly quickly.
The whole organization and processing was a little chaotic, but shout out to these people working that late into the night and next day as well. Before entering the building they kindly asked you to put down your mask, gloves and hat (if you have any), and they would measure your temperature. Measuring temperature was honestly stupid idea for a simple reason : everyone was standing outside for around hour minimum, and so resulting temperatures were ranging in 35°C to 35.7°C. My personal was 34°C (that’s why I was shaking when I entered our room). Then they would disinfect your hands, give you new face mask and let you in with your luggage. Next stop was handing out keys. The lady in this section asked me if I’m with some Mr. X I never heard of, and when I responded no, she was more than annoyed. After handing out our keys, bin bags and tissues, they showed us the room we’re supposed to remain in for the following week, and repeated for the 7th time that any type of leaving of the room is not permitted, and will be fined 1659€. Pricing was pretty doable — 13€ per day for food, rent/accommodation was not really charged, neither was the Covid-19 test.
The room was rather cozy — 2 beds, wardrobe, TV, sofa, couple of tables, bathroom, 2 windows. After a little organizing/changing to sleep clothes, we got off and fell asleep straight away. Next morning I felt a little sick, so I instantly got nervous if I’m not infected. As it later turned out to be a previous evening, outside of the hotel post-mortem. After calming down and trying to think of what to do in this one small room for the next week, I heard loud knocking on the door. When I got over to check it out, I opened the door and saw 4 people in hazmat suits taking food on a trolley to everyone in the building. As the building was a thermal spa hotel, the location and the architecture was quite convenient. These people were females mostly aged 50+, most likely volunteers, so their attitude was ranging from very nice to very bad. Also they offer to give you hot water for the coffee or tea, but only as far as you have your own. Nice. This was happening on a daily basis, similar with lunch and dinner. Every time, the food was packed in a plastic takeaway boxes (eco-friendly huh), with plastic cutlery. Most of the time the food is rice, with rice, or under rice, basically rice is a featuring. Also, the breakfast usually includes a hot tea in a plastic cup. The best part about breakfast is getting a sandwich with ham or cheese and vegan butter on the side. Makes perfect sense. Garbage is taken every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, pretty straight forward.
As a 21st century human, basically grown up on the internet, the next important question is how about the connection? There is a WiFi, but you won’t get a password. Simple as that. You have to use your own mobile data, or if you use your laptop, make a hotspot on your phone to share mobile data. That’s why the network scan caught networks like “Martin’s iPhone” or “AP-4297.” Luckily for us, the area is under perfect 4G coverage, so almost no interruptions were involved.
So I’m already drawing a picture and I think you get the idea of how the whole thing looked like. 6 days we spent in this quarantine were mostly stereotypical and repetitive — Everyday wake up in the morning, get the breakfast, have some hygiene, wait for lunch, do something else, wait for dinner, do something else, and go to sleep. Occasionally though, I got paranoid about if I’m not positive, or if my roommate is not positive, but then I realized, that if any of that would be true, it wouldn’t really matter anymore, as the job was practically done. I spent my time in the quarantine as simple as I could — I finished watching my favorite TV shows, cleaned up my phone and laptop, finished university assignments and prepared a little for the exams. The point was to be rather busy, as when you would get “funny” thoughts in a locked room where you are aware of spending the upcoming days without a chance of going out.. You better find something to do.
Throughout the time, you could feel the staff delivering the breakfast was nervous. One morning, as it happened, we heard a knock on the door, so my roommate opened it, to get the breakfast. One of the ladies, instead of asking whether or not we want the hot water for coffee (minus coffee), she yelled at him for opening the door before knocking. Though we just heard the knocking. That went smooth.
Nights were pretty quiet at a time, and pretty calming. Day was a lot different story, we got to see a guy chilling ledge of the open window (plot twist : ground floor, it was), several people shouting out of the windows, because why not. Those days were not as boring as they may seem, not gonna lie.
One day, we decided we would buy a pizza, just to gain some weight after a while. Turns out, as we called the reception of the hotel, they wouldn’t bring it to us, even if we ordered it and paid for it. So you’re telling me, that a staff of the quarantine spot, serving food potions like for a cat and they wouldn’t be able to take a box of pizza from the reception and bring it in front of our door, just like the rest of the meals? Right, I get it, if every single room would do it, they’d have more than enough stuff to do. But after talking to my friends and family, I got to know that other quarantine spots actually do provide such service. Lucky us.
The days passed by, the most of the day I spent staring into the screen and the day of tests finally arrived. We heard voices on the corridor, and then the knock came in. There were two guys in hazmat suits, one taking samples, another one taking data. So first things first, we had to prove our identity using our passports, then some basic fact checking, if we were vaccinated against the flu last year, etc. After that, the guy in yellow hazmat suit came in, and told us to cough as much as we can into a tissue, so that the sample is as clean as it can. So we did, then they took 2 samples, out of a nose, and a throat (that one was pretty nasty though). Just right before leaving, they told us that the results will be ready tomorrow or day after tomorrow.
Next day came, and we got an announcement right with the breakfast, saying, that patients that got tested yesterday, if results prove negative, will be released today, room by room, and that we have to put bed sheets into separate bin bag. First, they announced that it will happen around 2 PM. (it was 7 PM when we got out of the room). So as we were pretty confused, if we are or are not positive, we had to call reception again, and they only bluntly responded that we are negative as we received the paper in the morning. The same paper that said that people will be released only if the results are negative. So that actually makes sense.
After receiving a call from reception, we went out to the corridor with our stuff, and got into entry hall. First, just like in the beginning, they give you a new mask, disinfect your hands and give you gloves. Then, you have to ID yourself again, sign some papers, confirming you’ll remaining at a home quarantine for the rest of the time (1 week left for us). After the paperwork, we received a package of a dinner for the travel, as a final goodbye.