I tested positive for COVID-19 in Germany — let the nightmare begin.
The phone rings.
Hotel Reception: We just received your rapid antigen test and you have received a positive result. Please stay in your room. We will send up someone shortly to conduct a PCR test.
We all know the risks of traveling, however, when one takes all the precautions (masks, social distancing, handwashing, etc.), we do not actually expect to catch COVID.
In my last post, I wrote about having caught a “cold” during my travels (more here). Was it really a cold or was it secretly COVID-19? When I was showing symptoms, I 100% believed it to be a cold, especially considering that I took TWO COVID antigen tests during this period and received TWO negative results.
Scenarios went through my mind. Maybe I really did just have a cold and then my weakened immune system led me to catch COVID? Maybe, I never had a cold; maybe it really was COVID, and my two antigen tests were false negatives?
Antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests and are considerably less reliable. Receiving false negative antigen test results (meaning one does have the virus and receives a negative result) is not a totally unlikely scenario.
The symptoms that I had shown in the earlier days, however, proved to be totally irrelevant to my current situation, as German health authorities ordered my quarantine to begin on the day that I received the positive test result (not days earlier when the symptoms emerged).
By this point, my boyfriend and I were staying in a luxury resort in Bavaria — and it was nice! Unfortunately for us, we enjoyed fewer than 24 hours at this too-good-to-be-true hotel, as my positive test result was discovered on the morning after our arrival. Schade! (Pity!)
So, you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in Germany — what happens next?
A health official in a plastic garment, face shield, and FFP2 mask came up to our hotel room and performed the most uncomfortable nose and throat swab that I have ever endured. I was told to isolate and wear my mask and my boyfriend who was now Kontaktperson Eins (“Contact Person 1”) was basically ordered to do the same.
The pools, lounges, and other amenities that we came for were now off limits and so we sat in the nice, but no-longer-welcoming hotel room as we awaited what was to come.
Thoughts about rescheduled flights, costs of quarantine, and certain logistics (like grocery shopping) swam through my mind.
If the test results were to show Omicron, then we would have to follow one set of isolation/ quarantine guidelines. If the test showed Delta or another variant, then we would have to follow another set of guidelines. If I started showing symptoms, then we would have to prolong quarantine. Even if I never showed symptoms, there would be no way to get out of isolation early if it were discovered that I had the Omicron variant.
The stress was real!
Eventually, and through much negotiation and cooperation with the local authorities, we were moved to a furnished two-room vacation apartment (“Ferienwohnung”) on the same property as the hotel. We got a deal on the price (it still wasn’t cheap) and we had a limited kitchen, two rooms (to allow for social distance), and, surprisingly, heated floors in the main room. Additionally (and very thankfully), the logistics were worked out to allow for a grocery delivery hours after our arrival.
As I packed my things from the hotel room in preparation to head to the Ferienwohnung, I couldn’t help but feel like a felon on the way to prison. Thankfully, we were permitted to walk from the hotel to the Ferienwohnung, which was just 10 minutes away. While this sounds like a small detail, for me, it was the most significant. At this point, I did not know how long I would be cooped up. Numbers including 5, 7, 10, and 14 days were being casually thrown around. I’m not a pessimist, but I was mentally preparing myself for 14 days (the maximum sentence at the time of the incident), to stave off any further potential disappointment.
Closing the hotel room door, we walked down the spiral staircase. Taking our sweet time, we peered out the window on the cloudy day and looked at the picturesque courtyard. We ambled down the stairs and even photographed the staircase itself, savoring every last detail. As we walked down the long hallway to the back door, we couldn’t help but ogle the people resting in the luxurious leather couches and large chairs in the lounge. Some were on their laptops, others reading, some drinking coffee — they were all so free, as I marched away from it all in agony.
Outside people were going and coming. A child toddled by her father, unaware of her liberty. We took plenty of mountain photos. Then, we looked back to gaze upon the hotel and, finally, turned our heads in the direction of the Ferienwohnung knowing that everything else was behind us.
Walking across the threshold, I was delightfully surprised to see the accommodation was modest yet comfortable, and this buoyed my spirits a little. Regardless, isolation for me was not a breeze.
Stay tuned for the next post where I will go into more details of COVID-19 isolation in Germany … ugh.
Stay safe out there, dear Reader! And know that COVID doesn’t always look like COVID, it can also show itself as fatigue, a runny nose and scratchy throat, or a feeling of vague sickness and brain fog, especially if you are up to date on your vaccinations.