/Minnesota man stuck in Thailand after positive COVID-19 test

Minnesota man stuck in Thailand after positive COVID-19 test

Twin Cities-based attorney Lee Wolfgram spoke with FOX 9 from his private hospital room on the other side of the world in Puhket, Thailand.

His spirits were remarkably high given the circumstances as he keeps family and friends updated on his travel odyssey via social media.

Minnesota man stuck in Thailand after positive COVID-19 test

A Minnesota man is stuck quarantining in Thailand after a surprise positive COVID-19 test.

“I have BBC. Sorry, channel 9, that’s all I get. I have a little couch, my bed. I have a little kitchenette… I guess for a jail, it’s not bad.”

The retired army lieutenant colonel, aviator, and world traveler with business interests in Thailand jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first foreigners allowed back into the southeast Asian country during the global pandemic.

He is double vaccinated, which is an entry requirement. But, his plans quickly unraveled when his COVID-19 test upon arriving in Puhket came back positive.

Wolfgram had tested negative before leaving Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport for a journey across multiple continents. First, New York, onto Doha, Qatar for an eight-hour layover, and then flying into Thailand.

The country opened its doors again in July to vaccinated travelers on the popular island of Puhket. No quarantining was necessary with a negative-entry test, under what they are calling a restricted “sandbox” program. 

But, Wolfgram’s breakthrough case had Thai officials whisking him off to the hospital where doors remain locked and his x-rays are done from a distance. It’s also where he will remain for a full 14-day quarantine.

“They’re being extremely careful,” he said. “This is an important thing for their government to be able to demonstrate they have a plan to keep people safe to come back to Thailand.”

While Wolfgram is a seasoned traveler who was fully prepared for all contingencies – including purchasing multiple insurance plans – local travel agent Sara Butruff cautions that people need to do their research before leaving the country.

She reports flight schedules are a mess across the globe. It’s possible a border could close without warning, and quarantine rules might change mid-trip. She also warns one positive COVID-19 test could potentially destroy a dream getaway.

“Just because at the time you book, those might be the protocols in place at that time, but protocols can change. Protocols changed yesterday for different things. They can happen at any time and can be effective immediately,” she said.