It could have been me

Entitled, stupid, silly …

These are the words people are using to describe the dozens of Australian tourists stuck in hotel quarantine in Fiji after testing positive to COVID-19.

I narrowly avoided becoming one of them – entitled, stupid and silly, but in quarantine at home.

Sunrise interviewed a woman who tested positive two days after arriving in Fiji. She was separated from her family and abandoned in a hotel room. She tried calling the Aussie embassy for advice, but it had shut down for the holidays.

Here’s the video of her interview:

The comments have been vicious and fascinating.

“What a self entitled pratt. You chose to go to a beautiful island during a pandemic with covid. You should be in gaol not a hotel.”

“If you’re stupid enough to go on an overseas holiday in a pandemic (especially to an underdeveloped country) you sort of get what you deserve.”

“Oh please, cry me a river!! You chose to travel, you need to investigate countries before you go, that is the travel advice.”

“You reap what you sew! No sympathy from me! Australia is struggling with pandemic and hospitals overflowing how do you think a small Fijian village is going to cope without the resources we have!!! Don’t point fingers love you chose to go on holiday in the worst time ever!!!”

“You chose to travel you have to pay the price now . Not nice for you and my heart goes out to your kids not their fault you made a stupid stupid decision .”

I love how people are such experts and paragons of virtue on social media. You’d think they’d never made a mistake in their lives.

If the woman is like me, she booked her holiday when Omicron didn’t exist. It looked like the worst was over in late November, with more than 90% of Australians and 90% of Fijians fully vaccinated.

It seemed like a safe choice. Things changed dramatically in the weeks that followed. We could have pulled out, but going to Fiji didn’t seem any more reckless than staying in NSW during the week before Christmas.

She travelled in good faith. She’s freaking out because she’s alone and hungry and no one is answering the phone.

I think she’s being a bit hard on the Fijian hotel – another commenter who was staying at the same resort reckons she’s exaggerating how bad it is.

I feel for the Fijians – they want and need tourists, their economy is on the brink without it, but opening up is coming at a terrible price. They face a third COVID wave and it will be harsh.

People are making infuriating presumptions on social media. One person wrote: “By sounds of it they travelled without results back here in Australia so arrived in Fiji with Covid” while another speculated that the woman was unvaccinated.

The level of misinformation dazzles me. You can’t go to Fiji without a negative PCR result. You also need to prove proof of vaccination, plus proof that you are going straight to your hotel to isolate for 48 hours. They won’t let you on the plane otherwise. They’ve since tightened the rules to having a negative PCR result 48 hours before flying rather than 72, because so many people are catching COVID after having their test.

I’m not sure it will help much – COVID is so rampant in NSW that cases will keep slipping through.

All the people piling on in the comments section about the woman in Fiji make my eyes roll and my teeth grit so hard.

They also made me realize there are probably lots of people reading my blog and thinking I was an idiot for going to Fiji.

Admittedly, if I had my time over, I’d probably have chosen a holiday in Queensland, but that wouldn’t have protected me from COVID and hotel quarantine.

I took a risk because my kids wanted an adventure. Fiji wasn’t on my bucket list, but the youngest was desperate to get away after spending too long in her bedroom over the past two years due to COVID restrictions. It was also a chance to spend some time with my kids before they left home.

The risk didn’t pay off.

But, as Charles Lindberg once said: “Life without risks is not worth living.”

2 thoughts on “It could have been me

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  1. The real blame here lies with Morrison and Perotet, neither of whom have taken COVID seriously and both of whom fought restrictions. As to NSW specifically, the medical experts all say NSW put restrictions in too late and lifted them too early. That people were travelling is a symptom of a government that said it was fine because it is full of people who are short sighted and stupid. But that’s probably too difficult a story for the media, and definitely too difficult for social media. Social media is full of people looking for someone to blame in order to make themselves feel smug and righteous.

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