A furious passenger on board a TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff has hit out at the airline after they were told they all have to self-isolate following seven positive coronavirus tests.
Passengers who were on TUI flight 6215 on Tuesday are being considered as ‘close contacts’ of those who tested positive for COVID-19, forcing them all to quarantine for two weeks.
The seven cases were from three different parties on board the flight.
However, one passenger has now hit out at TUI and claimed that the ‘inept’ crew did nothing to ensure social distancing was maintained on the flight.
The furious flyer said she saw fellow passengers take off masks and freely mix with friends and families on board.
Stephanie Whitfield, from Cardiff, who was on the flight with her husband, told the BBC: ‘This flight was a debacle. The chap next to me had his mask around his neck. Not only did the airline not pull him up on it, they gave him a free drink when he said he knew a member of the crew.
‘Loads of people were taking their masks off and wandering up and down the aisles to talk to others.
‘As soon as the flight landed, a load of people took their masks off immediately. The flight was full of selfish ‘covidiots’ and an inept crew who couldn’t care less.’
There are 16 cases of Covid-19 linked to people who took Tui flight 6215 to Cardiff on August 25, according to Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales.
She said there have been about 30 cases in Wales in the last week that have come back from Zante, confirmed in people who were on different flights and staying in different locations.
Stephanie Whitfield, 39, had been travelling with her husband on the flight from Zante to Cardiff when she spotted fellow passengers walking around with no mask
She hit out at TUI and claimed that the ‘inept’ crew did nothing to ensure social distancing was maintained on the flight
Dr Lowe told Today: ‘In the last week we’ve had about 30 cases in Wales that have come back from Zante.
‘Different flights on different days staying in different locations.
‘These are confirmed positive cases and we’re expecting that number to rise.’
She said officials are in the process of reaching all 193 people on the Tui flight.
Dr Lowe said it is ‘very obvious’ from the work carried out in Wales that the majority of people do not catch the virus from strangers.
‘Yes, you can be unlucky, and you can get it from a random stranger or from a super spreader, but the vast majority of people get it from their workmates, their work buddies, their family, and their friends,’ she said.
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Asked about whether airlines should be more proactive about telling people to wear masks, Dr Lowe said wearing face coverings ‘may help’ but pointed out that they are an ‘informal measure’, adding that it is difficult for airlines to police.
‘If somebody is determined not to wear a mask, people often don’t know how to wear masks properly, they touch them a lot, they wear them below their nose, they take them off to eat.
‘And if you’ve got Covid symptoms, that will spread Covid symptoms quite rapidly through a confined space such as aircraft,’ she said.
Mrs Whitfield said she and her husband had decided to isolate before learning about the positive cases and revealed that they have some symptoms of the virus.
She added she was ‘more angry’ than anything else.
TUI has defended itself over the claims and insisted that all passengers wore masks and complied with Covid protocols ‘for the duration of their flight’.
Dr Giri Shankar, Public Health Wales director, said: ‘These passengers will be contacted shortly, but meanwhile, they must self-isolate at home as they may become infectious, even without developing symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should book a test without delay.
‘Our investigations into a number of cases of coronavirus have indicated that a lack of social distancing, in particular by a minority of the 20-30 year age group, has resulted in the spread of the virus to other groups of people.’
Passengers on board a TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff all have to self-isolate after seven tested positive for coronavirus
Public Health Wales investigations have raised concerns that people in their 20s travelling abroad to destinations such as Zante, above, are showing a ‘lack of social distancing’
Dr Shankar added that passengers were being contacted but must quarantine at home in the meantime, as they could become infectious even without symptoms.
No new deaths related to Covid-19 were reported by the public health body in Wales on Sunday, while it said 56 cases had been confirmed.
Today is the third consecutive day that neither Wales or Northern Ireland recorded any Covid-19 fatalities.
Dr Shankar urged revellers enjoying the bank holiday weekend to remember the importance of social distancing.
He added: ‘I would make a direct appeal to young people to remember that even if they feel that they would not be badly affected by Covid-19 if they were to test positive for it, if they were to pass it on to older or more vulnerable family members, friends or colleagues it could be extremely serious, even fatal.’
Earlier this week, shocking footage showed three workers in hazmats suits haul a passenger off a Ryanair flight, moments before it departed, after he received a text saying he had tested positive for coronavirus.
The passenger and his travel companion were taken off the plane minutes before it was due to take-off from London and moved to the airport’s isolation area, where they were met by health authorities.
Their seats and the overhead cabin bins were then disinfected before the plane was allowed to fly to Pisa in Italy one hour and 40 minutes behind schedule, according to Flight Radar.
The passenger, who has not been named, breached coronavirus quarantine restrictions by leaving their home and boarding the flight.
Ryanair said in a statement that the passenger received a text message minutes before his departure that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
The spokesman said: ‘The passenger and his travel companion were immediately offloaded and taken to a Stansted Airport isolation area where they were assisted by local public health authorities.
‘Since this passenger and his companion had complied fully with Ryanair health regulations, they were both wearing masks at all times at Stansted Airport and for the very short period (less than 10 minutes) they were seated on the aircraft prior to departure.
‘There was little if any risk of Covid-19 transmission to other passengers or crew members as all of whom were also wearing face masks at all times.
‘The aircraft departed for Pisa following a delay of 1 hour and 20 mins to allow for the empty seats and overhead cabin bins to be disinfected to comply with all UK health authority guidance. Ryanair apologises to all passengers for this short delay’.
Instructions on NHS England’s website warn those with symptoms to stay at home and avoid all travel.
Instructions on the Department of Health website read: ‘If you are getting a coronavirus test because you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with must self-isolate until you get your result.
‘This also applies to anyone in your support bubble (where someone who lives alone – or just with their children – can meet people from one other household).’
It can take up to 72 hours for tests to be completed to show whether someone has coronavirus.
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