TUI has launched a full investigation after the entire flight was told to self-isolate for 14 days
The number of positive coronavirus cases linked to a flight from Zante to Cardiff has increased to 16, with airline TUI now launching a full investigation.
Public Health Wales confirmed on Monday, August 31, that they had identified at least 16 confirmed cases of Covid-19 from three different parties who were on TUI flight 6215 on August 25.
Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: « Seven out of the 16 were infectious at the time of flying.
« As a result, we are advising that all passengers on this flight are considered close contacts and must self-isolate.
« 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.
« 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. »
It comes as a Public Health Wales official revealed there have been 30 cases in Wales in the last week where people had travelled back from the Greek island.
Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, 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. »
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.
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.
The holiday airline has said they are holding a full investigation after a passenger on the flight said many people on the flight were wearing masks around their chins and going up and down aisles to speak to people.
A spokeswoman for TUI said: « The health and safety of passengers is always our priority and we are concerned to hear of Mrs Whitfield’s claims.
« Our crew are trained to the highest standards and in line with European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) guidelines.
« Passengers are informed prior to travel and via PA announcements on the flight that they have to wear masks throughout and are not allowed to move around the cabin. Masks can only be removed when consuming food and drink.
« A full investigation is now under way as these concerns weren’t reported during the flight or before today. »
Nigel Harris, who was also on the flight with his wife, said he was pleased with the way the flight had been run. He opted for a test and has confirmed it was negative.
He said: « I can only speak for my section of the plane, I was in row nine with my wife, but all passengers had masks on all journey, on landing and beyond.
« None were stood up and walking about near me and it wasn’t the biggest plane. Only toilets at rear of plane could be used and nobody was allowed to queue there. The staff gave out messages all flight and did walk up and down. »
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