American Tourists in Barossa Valley

21st Mar 2020 @ 21:40 by Bill

A recent news article reported a tour group of eighteen Americans are quarantined at a Barossa Valley luxury hotel with several testing positive. Yes, regretfully the group on the news is our group

We were traveling through the Barossa when we read of the extraordinary measures directing Americans to stay ion their homes amid the virus outbreak. Right on top of that came the announcement that Qantas and JetStar were cancelling international flights. Our group had planned to split up after the Barossa visit, some staying on in the Barossa, some heading to Melbourne, some to Tasmania and some back to Sydney.

Coincidentally, one of our group began having chills which she suggested was part of her normal medical condition but to be sure we sent her to a local Adelaide hospital for testing and our hotel management isolated the couple in accordance with local Health guidelines.

Faced with the existing turmoil within the U.S. and our inability to travel, our group worked with our local hotel management in declaring an emergency isolation procedure working hand-in-hand with representatives of local health authority, SA Health.

Several of our group are medical practitioners including a Chief of Medicine in Infectious Diseases and Epidemiologist. Working directly with our SA Health group a medical team were on site within a day and full tests were performed on all group members.

The hotel staff and SA Health have performed flawlessly. Regardless of positive or negative test results we are committed to a total isolation period to prevent the possibility of infecting any third party.

Thankfully, most of the time our group only interfaced with others in restaurants or wineries where personal hygiene and sanitation of touch surfaces is normal procedure. It also appears that transmission by face to face contact may need to be over an extended period of hours.

SA Health have been provided a fully detailed itinerary of our trip including details for everyone who had contact with us. They are tracking backward in that list according to the risk evaluation timeline.

The virus is a respiratory illness with symptoms ranging from a mild dry cough to chills and fever. Some people recover easily while others may get sick but it seems the only road to recovery is to treat the actual symptoms until they cease and complete the full isolation period.

We have come to understand that testing someone before they exhibit symptoms is of no value but offer our best advice that if you or any member of your family or employees exhibit cold or flu like symptoms, seek local medical assistance immediately.

Our trip has been a beautiful food and wine experience and our group started out as ten couples who all became friends along the way. As the situation unfolded every Australian involved from hotel staff to paramedics, to doctors to taxi drivers stepped up to offer their total support, without regard to any personal risk while our group is no longer simply a group of friends who traveled together, we have become a community focused on helping each other.

While Dawn and I would naturally have enjoyed the normal farewell dinner and a quick return home to California, it has been a privilege to come to know these exceptional friends and how they have pushed aside any fear or anxiety normally associated with the virus and moved forward together.

We will remain in isolation here for at least two more weeks until we have failed to exhibit any symptoms, by which time we will have developed antibodies that will allow us to circulate socially.

Our thanks to all our friends who have reached out and please stay well,

Dawn & Bill Williamson