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Jamaican Hotels Holding American Tourists Hostage Over Fake COVID-19 Tests

KINGSTON — Jamaica is holding American tourists hostage in high-priced hotels in order to drive up their hospitality bill and increase tourism numbers.

United States tourists are complaining that the Jamaican hotels are false claiming that they have COVID-19 — when they don’t — in order to keep them their against their will.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department is now advising Americans not to travel to Jamaica because of COVID-19 conditions in the country. Lauren Senft of Atlanta said she hasn’t been allowed to leave after the resort, where she’s staying, told her she tested positive for the virus.

She posted a video of herself on Facebook taking an antigen test. She said it proves she is negative. 

“I had zero symptoms, but here we are,” Senft said.

She traveled to the Bahia Principle resort in Jamaica on Jan. 3 with a friend and planned to come home on Jan. 6. She had to be tested by the resort before leaving on Jan. 5 and that’s when her test came back positive. 

“I’ve already quarantined for five days, I completely understand, but now I have to quarantine another five days,” Senft said. 

She said the resort refused to show her the test, and by Jamaican law, she had to take a PCR test, which the resort told her was also positive, but again, would not show her the results.

Senft said she was moved to a room without air conditioning or internet access. She also said the resort did not give her food or water for the first two days.

“We are not asking to put Jamaicans at risk, we are just asking to go home to our country that observes a five-day quarantine,” Senft said. 

Now, she’s been there for seven days and will have to stay until at least Sunday.  Senft told 11Alive that the other American citizens quarantining with her are in worse shape.

“Last night, a girl in here had four seizures because she doesn’t have her medication she needs,” she said. 

Senft said the experience has been “very scary.” She said she’s also tried to contact state legislators in Georgia and the Governor’s Office. She’s also been in touch with the state department and she said they told her she was at the mercy of Jamaican law. 

“The state department called me last night and said the advisory has changed, they had a meeting and changed it to do not travel to Jamaica,” Senft said. “I would highly, highly recommend you reconsidering your travel here.”

11Alive reached out to the American Embassy there and the State Department about what’s happening, but so far, have not heard back yet. 

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