Every passenger on a flight from the Greek holiday island of Zakynthos to Cardiff, Wales has been told to self-isolate for at least 14-days after seven passengers tested positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, Public Health Wales confirmed that at least seven passengers on TUI Airways flight BY6215 that left Zakynthos on August 25 have since tested positive for the novel Coronavirus after arriving back in Wales.
The infected passengers came from three different parties leading officials to fear that the virus may have had the potential to spread amongst other customers onboard the flight. Travellers arriving in Wales from Greece are normally exempt from self-isolation rules because of the country’s apparent success in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Officials blamed young people who are not observing social distancing rules during holidays abroad for causing a spike in cases.
“Cardiff and Vale Test Trace Protect and Public Health Wales have identified at least seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 from three different parties who were infectious on TUI Flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff on 25 August,” the Welsh public health agency said in a statement.
“As a result, we are advising that all passengers on this flight are considered close contacts and must self-isolate,” the statement continued. “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.”
The Boeing 737 aircraft had 193 passengers and crew onboard. In a statement, TUI Airways said it had contacted all of the passengers on the flight at the request of public health officials and that the safety of its customers was it’s highest priority.
The airline said it was following COVID-19 guidelines set by European regulators which include regular cabin disinfection. A spokesperson noted that all of its aircraft are fitted with powerful HEPA air filtration systems.
“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,” commented Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for Public Health Wales.
“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,” Dr Shankar continued.
Greece has reported a total of 9,977 since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and only 260 deaths. The 14-day average of new cases per 100,000 of the population has, however, been rising over recent days and currently sits at 29.1. Concerns over rising virus cases have led to concern that holidaymakers will soon be required to self-isolate on their return to the UK.
Passengers are currently required by law to wear face masks on all British-registered aircraft, although there are a number of exemptions. Lawmakers have been unable to say whether anyone has yet been fined for failing to wear a face mask or other suitable face covering on a flight.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.