Grads plea to be released after five weeks ‘trapped’ in Italian quarantine hotel

‘We had to put our bags against the door to stop doctors barging in’

Three young men are currently trapped in an Italian hotel after testing positive for the coronavirus. Rhys James, 23, Quinn Paczesny, 20, and Will Castle, 22, are not being allowed to leave after testing positive five weeks ago whilst teaching in northern Italy.

Having been placed into separate rooms, the only contact the men have with anyone else is from a doctor and a cleaner, both of which wear full hazmat suits. The boys require two negative tests to be able to leave, but with false tests abundant, they’re looking to the government to get them out of Italy and back to their families as soon as possible.

The Foreign Office claims it is assisting them, but speaking with The Tab, Rhys told us that they haven’t heard anything: “The Foreign Office keeps telling the local press and the BBC that they’re in direct contact with us, but we’ve had not one email or a phone call from them.”

Rhys, who recently graduated from Royal Holloway, said that the whole experience was making the group feel unsafe: “No doors are locked, so we’ve had to put our bags against the door to stop doctors barging in. Each day the cleaners come, then the doctor comes for temperature and heart rate checks, and every Monday there is swab tests. The only two people we come in contact with are the cleaners and the doctors.”

In addition to being left alone in their rooms for long periods of time with very little to keep them occupied, the boys are also fed minimal amounts of food:  “Generally lunch and dinner are three different tubs: a protein dish, a veg dish and a carbs dish. Usually, this is a small bowl of pasta, a piece of meat and some vegetables. Sometimes there just isn’t enough protein, which is ironic as you need plenty of protein to fight off an illness. It can be a slice of ham, a slice of chicken or even just a ball of mozzarella.”

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“I have coeliac disease and have repeatedly been served meals with gluten in them. We’ve been in contact with the British embassy for three weeks and all they’ve managed to do is get us a few extra portions of food – and by that, I mean an extra salad at dinner time.”

The boys appeared on Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid on Monday morning, where they discussed their forced quarantine at the hotel. Speaking of the interview, Rhys told us that he believed Piers’ anti-government stance may have worked in their favour: “We were all really scared that he would say something really harsh, as we all know he is infamous for that kind of thing, but to be fair he seems like a nice guy.”

“I think it helps that he has sons in their 20s so he may be able to relate to our story a bit more. GMB and Piers tend to be a bit anti-government when it comes to anything to do with COVID, so that definitely put us at ease.”

You can keep up with the boys on Twitter

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