as bad a match as they come

Before going to Sweden I was intrigued by the requirements of the Japanese government to be able to return to Japan, seen together with the possibilites in Sweden to follow those requirements when it came to o PCR-testing. Japan still basically requires a negative PCR-test (for a few more days when writing this) in order to be able to return home. Sweden has almost stopped performing PCR-tests altogether if you think you have the virus – if you are not being committed to hospital, it seems all but impossible to get a PCR-test to know if you have Covid or just a common cold. There are still private places that perform PCR-tests for travel purposes (more on this later) but their requirement is usually that you need to have had no symptoms of a cold for seven days – otherwise you cannot take the test. So if you are feeling or have felt a bit sick this basically means that in Sweden you are hard to find a place that can produce the required documents you need to go back to Japan.

Ok, so if you are sick then just rebook the flight, one might think. After all, this is a pandemic so a little flexibility is not too much to ask, right? Right, if you want to buy a new very very expensive ticket. The flights in the end of summer with the our airline are almost all fully booked so if you want to rebook it would either mean buying a business class ticket or going home in the fall. Of course, if you have Covid and cannot return home, the travel insurance will pay for your new ticket, but then you need a positive PCR-test and that you cannot get in Sweden. If you are sick. This must be a prime example of the so called catch-22 expression.

My wife went back to Japan before my son and I, and she booked a PCR-test in Växjö an hour’s drive from my parents house and the closest city offering tests. The only possibility on offer was the day before her flight, but she went and was promised a result the same evening before 11. No result came. I found the 24 hours open call center number on their website – I called all night without getting any answer. By luck and skill my wife managed to board the flight without a test result and got the result the next day during her flight so she came home safely. From the clinic – no explanation, no apology, no contact telling us the result would be delayed, no answer to my wife’s emails. Who in the world dares to go to Sweden if you need to have a PCR-test, I remember thinking. 

Then the real problems started. 

Having booked a PCR-test for myself well in advance, having got the reminder email about not forgetting my appointment the day before, I was looking forward to going early Monday morning Växjö to get tested for the Wednesday flight. Late Sunday evening I got an email saying my appointment had been canceled. Just like that. No explanation. No help. No way to contact them. Nothing. And there ware no other places in Växjö that offered doing a PCR-test. Another sleepless night followed before finding a place in Lund two hours away that offered same day results. So Tuesday I went to Lund, and made sure with them that the certificate would adhere to the Japanese government’s requirements, of which they were familiar. Or so they said. 

I got the result. It was negative. Yey! Finally I have the certificate, I thought. We can go home to our lady. Or so I thought. After uploading the certificate to the Japanese government app, they said that my certificate was not valid. The date was not properly written or something similar. So one more sleepless night before finally getting a new certificate from the test center 30 minutes before leaving my parents house. And now I am sitting on the plane with a sleeping toddler in my knee, quite worn out. 

But no doubt I will have forgotten about it in a week or two and then start to dream about going back to Sweden and see my parents again. I know my wife does already. And I am sure my son would go back with the returning flight if he had the option. He really greatly loved it in Sweden. And in another blog post I will share a few images from our weeks abroad.

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