Woman quarantines in airplane bathroom for hours after testing positive in mid-flight

After one U.S woman tested positive for COVID-19 in the middle of the flight, the bathroom became her place for the next few hours.
Marisa Fotieo was on an Icelandair flight from Chicago to Reykjavik, IcelandDecember 19 on the way to his final destination in Switzerland with his brother and father.
Before the flight, Ms. Fotieo told CNN she took two PCR tests and about five quick tests, all of which came back negative. But about an hour and a half into the flight, Mrs. Fotieo began to feel a sore throat.
Marisa Fotieo, who tested positive on an Icelandair flight from Chicago to Reykjavik, isolated herself in the plane's bathroom for about three hours.
Marisa Fotieo, who tested positive on an Icelandair flight from Chicago to Reykjavik, isolated herself in the plane’s bathroom for about three hours. (Marisa Fotieo)

“The wheels started spinning in my brain and I was thinking, ‘OK, I’m just taking a test.’ It would make me feel better, ‘Ms Fotieo told CNN.

“Immediately it returned positive.”

Ms. Fotieo, who is fully vaccinated and has received the booster, is an early childhood teacher in Chicago. She tests consistently as she works with an unvaccinated population.

When she got her results in the plane’s bathroom, across the Atlantic, she said she was starting to panic.

“The first flight attendant I ran into was Rocky. I was hysterical, I was crying,” Mrs. Fotieo said.

“I was nervous about my family that I just had dinner with. I was nervous about the other people on the plane. I was nervous about myself.”

IcelandAir Boeing 767-300 aircraft in landing configuration on approach to landing at Frankfurt Airport in Germany
File photo: She had boarded the Icelandair plane from Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland, on December 19 on her way to her final destination, Switzerland (iStock / Getty)

Ragnhildur Eiríksdóttir, or Rocky, the stewardess Mrs. Fotieo ran into, helped reassure her.

“Of course it’s a stress factor when something like this comes up, but it’s part of our job,” Eiríksdóttir told CNN.

The stewardess said she did what she could to try to rearrange seats so Mrs Fotieo could sit in one place alone, but the plane was full.

Marisa Fotieo has taken two PCR tests and about five quick tests before boarding.  Everyone had come back negative.
Marisa Fotieo has taken two PCR tests and about five quick tests before boarding. Everyone had come back negative. (Marisa Fotieo)

“When she came back and told me she could not find enough seating, I chose to stay in the bathroom because I did not want to be with others on the plane,” Ms Fotieo said.

A note was then put on the bathroom door stating that it was out of order and that it was Mrs Fotieo’s new seat for the rest of the flight.

CNN contacted Icelandair on Thursday for a comment, but has not yet heard back.

Policies vary among airlines as to how to handle a coronavirus-positive passenger.

This comes just weeks after the United States and other countries imposed travel restrictions amid the proliferation of the Omicron variant.

She was in the bathroom for about three hours. Mrs. Eiríksdóttir checked her regularly and gave her lots of food and drinks.

“I was shocked that I missed a family trip. I was shocked that I had to be in Iceland alone. I was shocked that I had 20 families at home who just had me in their classroom, said Fotieo.

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While inside the bathroom, she said she bought internet access and called to tell her school. She too made a TikTok video, which has been viewed more than 4.3 million times Thursday afternoon.

Ms Fotieo said she did not feel stuffed inside the bathroom and was just happy not to be in the main cabin with the rest of the passengers, one of whom was her 70-year-old father.

When the plane landed in Iceland, Mrs. Fotieo and her family were the last of the plane.

Since her brother and father had no symptoms, they were free to take their connecting flight to Switzerland. Ms Fotieo got both a quick and PCR test at the airport, both of which were positive, she said.

In this photo taken on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, two local boys walk past the empty space in Hallgrimskirkja Church, a popular tourist destination in the center of Reykjavik, Iceland.
Marisa Fotieo’s family plans to meet with her in Iceland when she leaves quarantine. (AP Photo / Egill Bjarnason)

She was then driven to a Red Cross hotel, where she began her 10-day quarantine.

Doctors checked her in three times a day, she was given meals and medication was readily available.

“Honestly, it’s been an easy experience,” Ms Fotieo said.

“It’s partly due to Rocky and the breed of Icelandic people. Everyone here is so sweet.”

Throughout her quarantine, she continued to document the experience on TikTok. She even received Christmas presents and snacks from Mrs. Eiríksdóttir, with whom she had been in contact via social media.

“I knew she would be for herself in Iceland,” said Mrs. Eiríksdóttir.

“So even though it’s isolated, if you have someone there who can bring you something, it’s nice. So I just had to be that someone.”

Ms Fotieo’s last day in quarantine was on December 30, and her family planned to meet with her at the time. They will be able to experience Iceland together to catch up on the lost time as their flight back to the states is on January 3rd.

And Mrs Fotieo plans to meet Mrs Eiríksdóttir before she leaves the country. Mrs. Eiríksdóttir also mentioned that she visited Mrs. Fotieo when she has flights to Chicago.

“When I come out of this experience, I have a new friend and I have a new perspective on how much stewardesses need to do,” Ms. Fotieo said. “Rocky and the flight crew had me, but they also had the other passengers to handle on the flight.”

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