Some passengers ignored the rules for wearing masks on a flight from the Greek island of Zante to the Welsh capital, Cardiff, and the result was that almost 200 people had to self-isolate
This is how some of the almost 200 passengers on a flight of the Anglo-German airline Tui qualified that last August 25 made the journey from the Greek island Zante to the Welsh capital, Cardiff, which happened when, after landing, they had to quarantine themselves before the possibility of having been infected with coronavirus.
A passenger said the flight was full of “covidiots”. Others claimed that there was “not much” vigilance by the crew on social distancing rules to prevent COVID-19 and that many people did not use the masks correctly.
In the end, 16 passengers they tested positive in the coronavirus test, so all those on board – 193 travelers plus crew – had to undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine as soon as they arrived in the United Kingdom.
The airline said safety was one of its priorities. “Our crew is trained to the highest standards,” he assured.
“A full investigation (of what happened) is being carried out, since these claims were not made during the flight” or in the days immediately after, he added.
Health authorities said they believe seven people from three different sections of the aircraft were potentially infectious during the flight.
Giri Shankar, from the Wales Department of Public Health, told the BBC that people returning from Zante in particular are “catching the infection.”
Greece and its islands are exempt from the mandatory quarantine imposed by the London government for travelers from other destinations arriving in the United Kingdom, although on August 29 the British authorities updated their guidelines on Zante due to the increase in cases of coronavirus on that island.
Stephanie Whitfield said that she and her husband had unilaterally decided to isolate themselves before learning of the positive cases.
“This flight was a debacle. The man next to me had his mask around his neck. Not only did the airline not catch his eye, but they gave him a free drink when he said he knew a member of the crew, “said Whitfield.
“A lot of people took off their masks and wandered the hallways to talk to others,” she said.
“As soon as the flight landed, a lot of people immediately took off their masks. The flight was full of selfish ‘covidiots’ and an inept crew who didn’t care what happened“, added.
Whitfield told the BBC that he saw a crew member ask a woman to put on the mask.
“But the vast majority of people were told nothing,” he said.
The couple said they requested a coronavirus test as they experience mild symptoms.
Victoria Webb was also on that same flight and said that She learned of the outbreak when her mother sent her a link to an article from BBC News while traveling to London from Cardiff.
“I was surprised and a bit lost as to what was the best decision to make since I was halfway there,” she said.
“I spoke with the train manager, who was concerned but professional, and finally, after a conversation with the central office, he transferred me to a carriage where I was alone for the rest of the trip,” she said.
“We also exchanged contacts to be able to inform you when I had the results of my test,” he explained.
Webb is now conducting a quarantine in accordance with government advice, but said he did not receive any communication from health authorities, such as track and trace.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata, for its acronym in English) recommends mandatory face covering for passengers and crew members to wear masks as one of several actions to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 on board planes.
Proposed additional measures:
- Temperature control of passengers and airport workers
- Boarding and disembarking processes that reduce contact with other passengers or crew
- Limit movement within the cabin during flight
- More frequent and thorough cabin cleaning
- Simplified food service procedures to reduce crew movement and interaction with passengers
The Iata does not recommend restricting the use of the middle seat to create social distancing aboard the aircraft.
Lee Evans, who was also on that flight, described chaotic scenes at Zakynthos airport, where he said staff members were tampering with passengers’ phones to verify boarding passes.
“Getting on the plane was a free fight for everyone”he told the BBC. “There were people changing seats.”
“There was not much vigilance as to what the passengers were doing on the plane,” although the requirement to wear masks on board was reinforced, Evans said.
He said he received an email almost a week after the flight telling him and his family to isolate themselves, and said that it was like a “shock”. “Someone must be held accountable,” he said.
Another passenger, who asked to be identified as Lewis, said he had flown 11 times in the last six weeks with various airlines and that all other flights were fine except for Tui’s.
“Tui mismanaged the flight”, said. “We informed the cabin crew that people were constantly removing their masks. No one approached those people, “he explained.
“They should have told us to isolate ourselves before getting off the plane. We only learned from the news that this had happened. Five days later, I cannot tell you how many people I have had contact with ”, he assured.
Travel expert Simon Calder said the amount of time it takes to get in touch with people was concerning.
“It is absolutely imperative that people follow the rules,” he warned.
“Speaking on behalf of cabin crews in general (…) it is very difficult to monitor a night flight from an island to where you party like Ibiza, or in this case, Zante“, Analyze.
Tui said in a statement Monday that it follows protocol and informs passengers about wearing the mask.
“Passengers are informed in advance of the trip and by in-flight megaphone announcements that they must wear face masks at all times and are not allowed to move around the cabin. The masks can only be removed when consuming food and drink ”.
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