“A passenger on my flight from Croatia had Covid-19 – now I’m quarantined”


Li Boatwright was concerned about another passenger suffering from a ‘severe cough’ on her easyJet flight from Split

A holidaymaker returning from Split just in time to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine before the FCO removed Croatia from its ‘green list’ was dismayed later to learn that a passenger on his return flight was diagnosed with Covid-19 days later, forcing all travelers on the plane into self-isolation.

Li Boatwright, who runs a luxury PR firm, was on vacation with her partner and a friend when she learned last Thursday that Croatia was about to be removed from the Kingdom’s quarantine exemption list United due to an increasing number of cases. She boarded her easyJet flight on Friday and returned to London Gatwick before the new rules were put in place.

Once on board, she said that a passenger in the row behind her appeared to be ill. “He was sneezing, coughing violently and stuttering the whole flight,” she tells Telegraph Travel. “It doesn’t matter to believe they let him take the flight. The member of our party sitting directly in front of her moved out shortly after take off as she didn’t want to be near him.

Li’s group was not subjected to temperature checks at Split airport, nor before boarding. Currently, according to easyJet, these checks are not required at any Croatian airport, and easyJet’s policy does not include checking the temperature of every passenger, but the airline asks customers to notify a member of staff if they are. they develop symptoms. Sneezing is not a symptom of Covid-19, but a dry cough.

Four days later, on Tuesday, Li, her partner and her friend all received a text from the NHS Track and Trace service which read: “You have been identified as a contact of someone who has recently tested positive for the coronavirus. We would like to provide you with essential health tips and ask you to complete a short questionnaire about your health. ”

All three completed the form and were told they would be required to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution. “The only time I provided my contact details to the NHS under this program was for this flight, so I knew that had to be the source,” she says.

Li on vacation in Hvar

Kevin Oddy

“We immediately packed our laptops and everything we might need from the office and went straight home and this is where we will be staying until September 4th. We live in a small village on the Essex / Suffolk border and contacted a friend who said she would bring us some shopping and leave it outside our door if we needed it.

Li continues, “Of course, I can’t be 100% sure that the passenger directly behind my partner was the passenger who had Covid-19, but I’m incredibly frustrated that easyJet allowed him to get on the plane.

In response to Li’s account, a spokesperson for the airline told us: “easyJet has been informed by Public Health England that a customer who recently traveled on flight EZY8394 from Split to London Gatwick on August 21 has since been diagnosed with coronavirus.

“Public Health England communicates with any passengers it deems necessary to notify as part of its track and trace program. We are keeping in touch with Public Health England and following their advice. ”

He added: “If our ground crew were concerned about a passenger who they thought was potentially showing symptoms of coronavirus, he would not allow them to board and our cabin crew would also be vigilant and would handle the situation in the best interest. of all on board. .

“We have implemented a range of biosecurity measures based on EASA guidelines, which include enhanced disinfection of easyJet aircraft; customers, cabin crew and ground staff must wear masks; use of automatic baggage drop-off to check in baggage in the hold and of screens placed at check-in counters at airports where automatic baggage drop-off is not available. EasyJet aircraft are already equipped with advanced filtration technology – High efficiency particulate filters filter out 99.97% of airborne contaminants in the cabin, including viruses and bacteria.

Quarantine rules for arrivals in the UK are stricter than even at the height of the lockdown. Returning travelers are not allowed to leave home to do their shopping unless they run out of supplies and no one else can pick them up. They are not allowed to leave for exercise, even for a short jog around the block.

Li, who has had no symptoms so far, says, “My partner and I are working together and our plans for the next week mean that we have had to inform my niece and a dear friend that we cannot. see them. celebrate their birthdays and we will not be able to see my 80 year old in-laws. Also, I had to postpone the dates of an intern who was to work with us for a month.

She adds, “I stay positive that we can work from home, but the fight for me is not being able to get out at all. Even during the lockdown, I really looked forward to our daily hour of exercise. It’s going to be tough, but at least I’m in a better position than the others on our flight who were racing home so their kids didn’t miss their first day of high school.

Reports of these situations have been few and far between. In early March, all 448 passengers and crew on a Virgin Atlantic flight departing from Barbados were quarantined after landing at London Gatwick when several people said they were not feeling well.

At the end of June, 140 passengers on a Madrid-Lanzarote flight were quarantined upon arrival at Cesar Manrique airport after a traveler received a positive coronavirus test in flight.

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