Stuck in Togo: Traveling amid COVID-19 could leave you stranded

KELOLAND.com Original

LOMÉ, TOGO (KELO) — Casey McCoy is stuck.

The 32-year-old Dell Rapids resident landed in Lomé, the capital city of Togo, a developing country in west Africa, for his best friend’s wedding on Dec, 16.

Following a positive coronavirus test while attempting to leave the country, McCoy is stuck in Togo under quarantine until he can produce a negative test.

McCoy posted to Facebook on Tuesday, expressing dissatisfaction with the conditions in which he is being quarantined. He described moldy walls in the repurposed hotel, lack of medication, limited access to drinking water and other things emblematic of the nations developing status, such a lack of fresh PPE for the facility workers, and the use of pails as chairs for the women who prepare his food outdoors beneath a tree.

Though he has been in contact with the U.S. Embassy, McCoy will, for now, be staying in Lomé. Through communications via Facebook Messenger, McCoy told KELOLAND News that a COVID-19 test taken Wednesday came back as positive on Thursday.

McCoy says he has now been told that he will need to wait five days to test again.

South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson has been in contact with McCoy. In a brief phone conversation with KELOLAND News, Johnson said he believes they have been able to help McCoy’s situation. Johnson expressed no allegations of wrongdoing by the government of Togo, noting that he has heard McCoy’s side of the story, but does not want to make assumptions about the facts on the ground in Lomé.

Johnson said that when traveling in foreign countries, it is important to remember that you must follow their rules, even if the reasons for their rules are not readily apparent.

To be sure you have a full grasp of the country’s policies, Johnson recommends consulting with the U.S. State Department website to familiarize yourself with rules and regulations ahead of time.

While there are no restrictions imposed by the U.S. on travel to Togo, as of Dec. 30, the U.S. Embassy’s COVID-19 travel information page for Togo does list it with a ‘Level 3’ travel advisory, stating that travel to the country should be reconsidered.

KELOLAND News spoke with McCoy’s step-father Vernon Heald, who said he is frustrated. Heald says Johnson’s office has been wonderful in communicating with them, but that he and McCoy’s mother, Lois, are concerned about McCoy’s mental and physical health. McCoy’s parents live in southwest Minnesota.

McCoy’s parents note that they hope their son will be able to return home soon.

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