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Welsh government ‘deeply concerned’ by claims passengers ignored Covid rules on flight into Cardiff

All passengers landing at Cardiff from Zante tonight are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days after at least 16 arriving from the Greek island last week tested positive. 

The roughly 190 passengers aboard the Tui Airways plane are scheduled to land in Wales at 10.40pm. They will all be tested within 48 hours and again after eight days.

It comes after the Welsh Government said it was ‘deeply concerned’ over claims that ‘inept’ cabin crew aboard a Tui flight on August 25 did nothing to stop passengers removing their masks.

Meanwhile the Scottish Government has announced that travellers from Greece will be required to self-isolate at home for two weeks as of Thursday morning.  

Greece’s current infection rate is 13.7 per 100,000 people, while the UK Government’s threshold for its quarantine list is 20 cases per 100,000.

The roughly 190 passengers aboard the Tui Airways plane are scheduled to land in Wales from Zakynthos at 10.40pm. They will all be tested within 48 hours and again after eight days (stock photo of a Tui jet)

Scotland’s chief medical officer Gregor Smith said: ‘There is a compelling public health risk around importation of the virus, especially given the number of imported cases linked to the Greek islands.

‘The flow of travel between Scotland and Greece, and the behaviour we have seen from some of those travellers, means that on public health grounds there is a strong case – supported by public health directors – to remove Greece from the exemption list.’

Seven of those on Tui’s August 25 flight to Cardiff were infectious at the time of flying and all 193 passengers have been told to self-isolate, the Welsh Government said.

Countries on official quarantine list  

Spain

France 

Croatia

Malta

UAE

Jamaica

Switzerland

Belgium

Czech Republic

Austria

Netherlands

Bulgaria

Canada

Singapore 

One traveller claimed that the flight was full of ‘selfish covidiots’, with passengers not wearing their masks properly and disregarding the rules.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams told the Welsh Government’s weekly press conference that a statement about other flights coming into Wales would be made on Tuesday.

‘The Welsh Government is deeply concerned by the reports from people who were on that flight about the lack of appropriate measures to keep everybody on that flight safe,’ she said.

‘My colleague Vaughan Gething, the health minister, is in discussion with all relevant parties and will be making a statement later today about other flights that may be operating out of Greece and into Cardiff Airport.’

Today, Public Health Wales said one further person with coronavirus had died in Wales, bringing the total number of deaths there to 1,596.

There were a further 51 positive cases of Covid-19 reported, bringing the number of cases to 18,063.

Dr Christopher Williams, incident director for the Covid-19 outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: ‘All passengers are being followed up by their local Test Trace Protect teams.

‘They should all self-isolate at home, as they may become infectious, even if they have no symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should book a test without delay.’ 

Stephanie Whitfield, who was on the flight in question, claimed the ‘inept crew couldn’t care less’ after passengers took off their masks and mixed freely with friends and families on board.

The flight left all 193 people on board facing two weeks self-isolation and comes amid fears that Zante could be a new coronavirus hotspot. 

Mrs 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.’ 

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

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

Education Minister Kirsty Williams, pictured, said the Welsh Government is 'deeply concerned' by reports from passengers on the flight

Education Minister Kirsty Williams, pictured, said the Welsh Government is ‘deeply concerned’ by reports from passengers on the flight

According to Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, there have been about 30 cases in the last week linked to Zante, and confirmed in people who were on different flights and staying in different locations.

Authorities impose new restrictions on the island of Zante as fears grow holiday destinations could become new covid hotspot

  • Local restrictions have been put in place on the islands of Zante/Zakynthos amid fears of a rise in coronavirus cases. These include:
  • Suspension of any kind of live events and celebrations such as parties, trade fairs, religious ceremonies, open markets etc.
  • Prohibition of operation of all food/catering sector-related shops, services and facilities from midnight – 7am the next day.
  • A ban on gatherings of more than 9 people, either indoors or outdoors;
  • A limit of 4 people per table in any restaurant, except for cases where the party consists of family members, where the limit is 6 people;
  • Mandatory use of face masks in indoor and outdoor public spaces.

 

She also admitted: ‘These are confirmed positive cases and we’re expecting that number to rise.’  

The Foreign Commonwealth Office updated its advice for Britons travelling to Zante, or Zakynthos, after an increase in local restrictions to combat the virus. 

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’.

A statement 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 underway as these concerns weren’t reported during the flight or before today.’

Tourists now face several restrictions on what they can do on the island, including the suspension of live events and celebrations such as parties, trade fairs, religious ceremonies and open markets, as well as the prohibition of all food and catering sector-related shops, services and facilities from midnight to 7am the next day.

There is also a ban on gatherings of more than nine people, either indoors or outdoors, a limit of four people per table in any restaurant, except for cases where the party consists of family members, where the limit is 6 people, and the mandatory use of face masks in indoor and outdoor public spaces.

Several Britons who visited Greece in recent weeks have reported cases of the virus. 

Last week, 11 teenagers from Plymouth tested positive for the coronavirus, with up to 30 infected in total after returning from Zante. 

Plymouth’s director for public health Ruth Harrell said that some of the teenagers went gone on a ‘night out in Plymouth’s bars and restaurants’ before they were aware of the risk. 

Greece’s current infection rate is 13.7 per 100,000 in the last seven days. 

A seven-day rate of 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people is the threshold above which the UK Government considers triggering quarantine conditions. 

Parents have been in touch with MailOnline and shared their concerns about cases in Zante. 

Phillipa Clarke told Mail Online: ‘My daughter and 2 friends flew into Birmingham airport from Zante at midnight on Friday. 

‘She’s since heard on social media chat that of a group of 11 Cardiff lads they were friendly with, chatted in the evenings, same flights, transfer, hotel and pool, 3 have tested positive, so she’s currently isolating. I’ll be interested to see if/when we hear from Track & Trace. 

‘Clearly an issue with Zante, flights and Cardiff. Everything we feared.’

Another woman said: ‘I was not on board but my daughter told me on Friday that a number of pupils from Cardiff High School had Covid 19 after returning from Greece. I took no notice of it as there was nothing on the news about it. 

‘There were at least two groups from this school – one were 18 year olds and the other 17 year olds. My daughter has also been told there was a third group from kids from other schools in Cardiff. 

‘All groups had been partying out in Zante, Greece and we’ve been told that some of their parents have caught it. I’ve heard more from people locally than has appeared in the media.’

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. 

Seven of the passengers on the flight tested positive at the time of the journey, and a further nine since, taking the total to 16.

However, another passenger, Danielle Loughman, defended TUI and told MailOnline that cabin crew repeatedly stressed the importance of wearing masks and fellow passengers had done their best to maintain social distancing. 

She added that Mrs Whitfield’s complaints had surprised her and ‘it was like we were on different flights’.  

Mrs Whitfield said she and her husband had decided to isolate before learning about the positive cases

Mrs Whitfield said she and her husband had decided to isolate before learning about the positive cases 

She hit out at TUI and claimed that the 'inept' crew did nothing to ensure social distancing was maintained on the flight

She hit out at TUI and claimed that the ‘inept’ crew did nothing to ensure social distancing was maintained on the flight

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.

Ms Loughman refuted her claims and said: ‘I was on the flight mentioned above near the back of the plane and have family that were at the front of the plane and neither of us had any issues with people not wearing masks. 

‘The cabin crew repeated several Times throughout the flight that if anyone felt unwell or had Covid like symptoms to report them to the cabin crew as soon as possible. 

Get in touch  

Are you in Zante and concerned about coronavirus? Let us know danny.hussain@mailonline.co.uk 

‘We were told to not queue for the toilet which was adhered too and didn’t see anyone chatting in the aisles (if they had I would have complained). 

‘Whilst I cannot comment about everyone wearing their masks (I was near back so couldn’t see everyone) there was definitely not a mad rush to take them off and everyone still had them on as we went through customs as we all had to lower our masks when checking our passports. 

‘Yes the flight was full but Tui did all they could to advise people of the safety measures in place. 

‘We are now all self isolating as requested by track and trace. I would never normally email about a story like this but after reading what one passenger has said I cannot believe it. It’s like we were on different flights.’  

Passengers on board a TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff all have to self-isolate after seven tested positive for coronavirus

Passengers on board a TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff all have to self-isolate after seven tested positive for coronavirus 

She said officials are in the process of reaching all 193 people on the Tui flight.

Another passenger on board, Victoria Webb, told the BBC she had received no communication from any health body since the 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.

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.

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'

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 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.’

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.

***Are you in Zante and concerned about coronavirus? Let us know danny.hussain@mailonline.co.uk***

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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