Appin residents return from Africa to coronavirus isolation

Coming home from a trip overseas is meant to be a welcoming experience.

But Luke and Alicia Clements came home to a very different Australia than the one they left.

The young Appin couple travelled to South Africa for a much-deserved holiday, which was paired with a work trip.

At the time they left Sydney Airport, coronavirus was but a quiet whisper. However, landing in Johannesburg showed the couple how the spread of the virus was being handled in other countries.

"We sat on the tarmac for about half an hour before health officials boarded the plane," Mr Clements said.

"They took our temperatures, sprayed our luggage with disinfectant and were squirting hand sanister at us before we even got off the plane."

The Clements' said the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had not affected the African countries they visited in the same way it had Australia.

"We went to the supermarket a couple of times and there was no hoarding of toilet paper and pasta like over here - the only thing we spotted that would sell out quickly was soap and hand sanitiser," Mr Clements said.

"The people are also so happy and positive.

"Over here there seems to be so much negativity but over there they were still so polite and welcoming."

Mr Clements said despite visiting many third world countries, he felt they were miles ahead of Australia in preparing for the virus.

"A lot of people over there were already isolating, we had hand sanitiser squirted into our hands everywhere we went, they would spray our shoes and they were already doing social distancing," he said.

"But when we landed in Australia we sat on the tarmac for five minutes and then they let us off the plane without checking our temperature.

"We were handed a pamphlet about the mandatory 14-day isolation period and sent home."

Mrs Clements said she was shocked by the lack of precautions considering many borders have been locked down.

"It was a bit of a shock really because we'd gone from using hand sanitiser every day to nothing when we landed," she said.

"I think it's nice to be home safe but we just don't know how long this virus is going to last - it's the unknown that's scary."

The couple were not fully prepared for the two-week isolation period before they left as tougher rules were bought into effect during their time abroad.

"We've had to rely on our parents to drop things at our door," Mr Clements said.

"It kind of sucks because we've been away for so long and we can't catch up with anyone but we understand it's for the best."

Mrs Clements said it was important for Australians to abide by self-isolation and social distancing rules.

"In all this stress and panic it's important to remember that we are all in this together."