Swine flu: SA man tested in Atlanta only has bronchitis

2009-04-30 00:00

THE Bloemfontein businessman who has been detained in Atlanta in the U.S. for the past three days whilst undergoing tests for swine flu, only has bronchitis.

But the swine flu panic and subsequent disruption to his travel plans have cost him and a colleague R17 000.

He said rude customs officials in America treated them like criminals.

In an e-mail yesterday, Greyling said he and his colleague, Johnny Tyrannis, attended a trade show in Mexico City from April 19 to 24, and then went to the island of Cozumel. They were planning to return to Mexico City on Sunday and then fly to Washington on Monday.

“However, last weekend we saw the news about the flu and started to worry,” he said.

“Our first experience [of the growing flu panic] was when we landed on Cozumel last Friday.

“No one was allowed to leave the aircraft before a health official moved through the cabin.

“On Monday, Johnny and I decided to avoid Mexico City and travel by ferry to Cancun to catch a direct flight to Washington.”

That evening, Greyling developed mild flu symptoms. The next day, as they prepared to fly to Washington via Atlanta, he felt worse. “We decided to put on masks.

“In Atlanta we had to pass through customs to catch the flight to Washington. I decided to keep my mask on. That was when I ran into a very rude official. He asked me if I was feeling sick. I said yes. The way they spoke to me was very humiliating and I felt like a criminal.

“I was led to a room where I was questioned by an official from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The officials seemed panicky and kept as far as possible from me.

“From a distance, three officials clad in masks and gloves shouted at me: ‘We have a few questions for you!’. They wanted to know what I was doing in America, why I was going to Washington and what I had done in Mexico. Then we were taken by ambulance to hospital.”

Three doctors examined Greyling and drew blood.

They said he probably had bronchitis, but told him to stay for tests.

“I got no compensation for flights that we missed. We were put up in rooms that reminded us of an old, cheap motel. I was given antibiotics, but we had to pay for food.

“But I didn’t want to be the guy who brought swine flu to South Africa, so I stayed,” Greyling wrote.

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