Anna Shvets

“Every day there are two or three tourists barred from return flights home”: what happens to them?

Portuguese State television RTP has been discovering what happens to the handful of tourists, of whatever nationality, who end up ‘testing positive for SARS-CoV-2’ as they prepare to fly home from Faro airport.

Bearing in mind that most will have checked out of hotels/ holiday accommodation, where do they go?

A 22-year-old French student named only as ‘Marie’ is one of the latest to have found out.

She tells RTP the diagnosis took her totally by surprise.

Marie describes a ‘very stressful day’ when she was parted from her friends (all of whom tested negative and were able to fly home).

After getting no help from either the French or Portuguese embassies, she said she was lucky enough to meet two social assistants who took her to Loulé where a room in a community building was set aside for her.

Not appearing ill in any way, but found to be ‘positive’ for SARS-CoV-2 in a PCR test, Marie now faces the minimum of 10 days in this limbo passing for ‘quarantine’.

RTP filmed her, sitting in a cordoned off section of courtyard, saying cases like Marie’s happen every day in Faro. There are invariably two or three people whose PCR tests flag positivity for the virus – and if they have no means of supporting themselves for the ensuing 10 days, entities like Loulé Câmara have to step in.

This is just one grey area thrown up by the requirement to test holidaymakers before they board planes on homeward journeys.

Another is the conundrum of how these positive cases are to be ‘registered’. Algarve mayors have quite rightly pointed out that they don’t want them registered as a ‘local case’ as this could inflate the Algarve’s indigenous Covid tally.

The next three months will see the Algarve’s population increase exponentially, explains António Pina, Mayor of Olhão and president of AMAL, the association of Algarve municipalities.

“We need a mechanism created to understand this”, he stressed. Population numbers can double over the summer. “We can’t want to be prejudiced for another year by sums that are not properly calculated …”

What does seem to have been established is that any Portuguese nationals testing positive while on holiday in the Algarve will have their test results attributed to their area of residence. But this doesn’t help with the issue of foreign holidaymakers who are quite literally ‘stranded in the Algarve’ in the event of a positive test – some of them with no idea how or where to spend their enforced quarantine.

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