Four teenage British girls were held in solitary confinement for almost a month at an Italian hotel being converted into a coronavirus detention center.
Rachel Goldsmith, Lily Griffin, Lily Rose Wallace and Millie Acers, all 18 years old, were on vacation in Sicily before testing positive for the virus in September.
The school friends were housed in separate rooms in the hotel, which is surrounded by armed police and the army.
Teenagers who were educated at the James Allen Girls' School for £ 18,000 a year in Dulwich, south London, are now lacking the start of university courses, exams and their jobs.
Rachel Goldsmith, Lily Griffin and Lily Rose Wallace, all 18, and Millie Acers, 19, were on vacation in Sicily (pictured) when they tested positive for the virus on September 15
Under Italian health law, they must test negative for the coronavirus twice before they can be exempted.
Millie, who is studying English in Durham, was able to leave on Sunday after two negative results, but Rachel, Lily and LilyRose tested positive for the third time this week.
Rachel, who is applying for a degree in history and politics at the university next year, said, “It was mentally challenging to be all alone.
“The only contact we have is with people who wear hazmat suits and who don't really speak English, so I feel isolated. It's just lonely to be here. & # 39;
The view from the hotel where the girls are being held cannot communicate with each other from their separate rooms
LilyRose, who works in a coffee shop and wants to apply to drama school, added, “I'm scared. We're all fighting now because it was a long time ago. Conditions aren't great, but what is really bad is communication – not knowing when we're going, what's going on, and when our tests will be.
“The thought of not knowing when I'll be home is the hardest part, especially at this point knowing that there is no point in being here. We know we are no longer contagious. It's been a long time since we had the virus.
& # 39; It's really scary. We are young but there are a lot of adults here and you can hear them crying and screaming at night and you think if adults are not doing well what happens to us when we are here long & # 39;
The four friends, all from south London, arrived in Palermo, the Sicilian capital, for a week on September 8th after a troubled last school year.
The food is served at the Palermo Hotel, where British teenagers have been isolated for weeks
But LilyRose and Rachel had mild symptoms, including loss of their sense of taste and smell. They notified the landlady of the apartment they were staying in, and all four started self-isolating.
The group tested positive for Covid-19 on September 15 – the day they were supposed to fly home – and were taken to the San Paolo Palace Hotel by ambulance.
They are now appealing to the UK government for help fearing they might be stuck there for a few more weeks.
Lily, who is a medical student at Imperial, said: “We are disappointed with the British government because we have done everything we can to protect the Italians. We were tested, we didn't get on that plane home, we wore masks everywhere and now The government and consulate are doing nothing to get us out of this situation.
“I have now missed the start of university. This first week I can catch up with everything online, but next week I start doing a session with missing skills. It's a medical course so you can't do everything remotely.
Italy has since introduced mandatory coronavirus testing for UK visitors. Health Minister Roberto Speranza said arrivals from European countries at higher risk for Covid-19, such as the UK, France and Spain, would need to demonstrate a negative test carried out in the 72 hours prior to travel. (Above a test site at Fiumicino Airport in Rome)
Visitors who cannot prove a negative result at the border must take a test in Italy. Some airports offer free trials while others can cost around £ 11. Travelers are only allowed to leave once they have received their result. (Above passengers in the transit area at the airport & # 39; Leonardo da Vinci & # 39; in Fiumicino near Rome today)
"I also can't learn about the hotel's WIFI because it just won't reach my room, so I had to buy extra data and that already cost me about £ 80 I think."
The teenagers also feel disappointed with the hotel's food and cleanliness, and have safety concerns due to a number of disruptions.
Lily said, 'The carpet is absolutely disgusting, the amount of dust and hair is absolutely terrible, and it's not my hair either.
“The food is so oily, it's the oiliest I've ever had, and most of it is just cooked vegetables soaked in oil and salt. They gave us an omelette once and it tasted like the sea, it was awful.
"We had sweet potatoes for us vegetarians the other day, but it tasted like cucumber."
There were 2,844 new cases in Italy on Saturday, the highest daily number since April but still well below the numbers seen in France, Spain and the UK
Italy has recorded around 36,000 deaths since its outbreak on February 21, the second highest official number in Europe after the UK
Rachel added, “It's actually pretty scary. A lot of people are screaming and there is a woman in our corridor who is always crying and yelling at the doctors. She once threatened: "If you touch me, I'll kill you."
“And then and there people throw things out of their window. So the army and police gather and start screaming.
Now British visitors MUST take a Covid test in Italy
Italy has introduced mandatory coronavirus testing for UK visitors.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced that arrivals from European countries at higher risk for Covid-19, such as the UK, France and Spain, will be required to demonstrate a negative test carried out in the 72 hours prior to travel.
Visitors who cannot prove a negative result at the border must take a test in Italy.
Some airports offer free trials while others can cost around £ 11. Travelers are only allowed to leave once they have received their result.
Anyone who tests positive will be quarantined until two consecutive negative results are recorded.
Visitors arriving at airports where tests are not available must self-isolate within 48 hours and take a test at an alternative facility.
Fines can be problematic for those who fail to comply.
"One of the days they didn't bring our dinner for two or three hours because of all the interference."
Her parents also worry about the physical and mental health of their daughters.
Rachel's mother, Margaret Goldsmith, 49, a home mother of three, said: “They are completely isolated and the rooms are stripped down to the bare essentials so they don't have laundry facilities.
“They had no sunshine because they are not allowed outside at all.
“I had to send vitamin D to my daughter because they don't get any fresh fruit or fresh salad, and they don't even have a balcony to go out onto. Spiritually it was really, really difficult for her. & # 39;
LilyRose's mother, Beverly Wallace, a musician, added, “There are public order issues almost every day. I managed to get through to the front desk and they once told me that there was an incident at the hotel that the staff couldn't leave their rooms, the girls would be fed sometime that evening but that wasn't safe for them right now Bring food.
Lily had her last test on Monday at 11:30 pm that night. Someone knocks on her door with a full protective suit, full face mask – how acceptable is it to knock on an 18 year old's door at 11:30 a.m. and do this swab test?
“And it's also very invasive, it's not like the British tests. They don't do your throat, they go up your nose so far that the whole stick goes up your nose so it kind of goes down your throat.
“Lily says you almost pass out, it's so painful, it's such a shock. Indeed, this time the person felt sorry for her. They actually touched her because I think they felt like she was literally going to pass out because it's such an aggressive way of testing. & # 39;
Mrs. Wallace said the girls only wanted to go on vacation after "the worst summer you can imagine".
She said, “We're not saying that the girl shouldn't have explained that they were uncomfortable or that they had lost their sense of taste and smell. They all feel that they did the right thing. And they would do it again because they don't want to endanger anyone. But 14 days of quarantine was what they expected. Little did they know that this was an indefinite permanent residency based on a science that is simply wrong and that the rest of Europe does not respect. & # 39;
The plight of the teenagers mirrors that of Will Castle, 22, Rhys James, 23 and Quinn Paczesny, 20, who have been quarantined in Florence since August.
They continue to test positive, but doctors have told them they are likely not infectious and that the tests will likely detect dead coronavirus cells that remain in their systems.
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