A Welshman who was stuck in Italy for eight weeks because he kept testing positive for coronavirus has finally returned home.
They were then escorted from the hospital to a coronavirus quarantine centre where they were separated.
The Italian law at the time meant that they each would need to provide two consecutive negative coronavirus test results to be able to leave.
However, as the weeks passed, the trio – which included Quinn Paczesny, 20, and 22-year-old Will Castle, 22 – kept testing positive for the virus, which they believe was down to an “inactive” version of the virus showing up.
Finally on Monday, October 12, Will tested negative and was allowed to return to the UK. However, Quinn and Rhys returned a positive test and were told they would have to stay, despite having no symptoms since August.
However, On Friday, October 16 the Italian government changed the law, so that after 21 days of isolation and one negative test, people stuck there could leave the country.
The two boys travelled back that weekend after testing negative for coronavirus 61 days after they were put in isolation.
Quinn told Good Morning Britain: “[It was a] surreal moment to be able to hug mum and dad since not seeing them since the beginning of July. That was so nice, just to see them and be able to hug them. Quite emotional as well.”
His dad, Mark, said it was “absolutely fantastic” to see Quinn and that the family were “overwhelmed” to have him finally home.
Rhys, who previously worked as an admin rep for TUI in Austria, told hosts Kate Garraway and Ranvir Singh: “It was amazing, my dad kept stalling the car on the way home just to make sure that my sisters got the party ready in time. It was just lush, it was so nice seeing everyone.
“And coming from the airport at the beginning – you don’t forget that moment.”
When Ranvir asked Rhys’ parents how their first hug with they son was, his mum, Sharryn James said: “It was just surreal really to see them eventually come through the doors.”
His dad, Mark James, added: “We’re used to him travelling abroad, we’re used to him being away for long periods of time, but obviously it was the not knowing bit with this one. We’ve normally got travel arrangements well ahead.
“Thanks to GMB and the media I think they got this rule changed and we’re very grateful for it.”
Ranvir asked Rhys what was next in store for him now he’s finally home.
He replied: “It’s a matter of applying for jobs. The current climate is so hard with Covid and everything, but I’m hoping to get back up to London, get some jobs and work with the travel industry again maybe. But it’s just waiting to see what I can do.”
Though Rhys said he is happy to be free from his small room in Italy, he will soon be entering the fire-break lockdown with the rest of Wales on Friday, October 23.
However he is relieved to be able to spend that time with his family.
“It’s a shame but I think the lockdown is necessary,” he told WalesOnline. “The quicker we all pull together and follow the rules, the quicker life will return to normal.
“Obviously I’d love to get back to work and hang out with my friends and family, but at least now I can isolate in a house with a garden, with people I can socialise with and speak to in person and not have to worry about a cleaner or doctor knocking on my door randomly.”
He added: “It’s a strange feeling being home because you do wake up in the night a few times wondering if this is real, am I actually back.
“I still don’t have my normal appetite back so I’m building that up again. Plus, socialising is weirdly exhausting and it’s quite difficult talking about the past few weeks. But I am over the moon to be back and think after a bit of adapting I’ll be in my normal routine again in no time.”