Almost 200 passengers on a flight from the Greek island of Zante have been told to self-isolate after coronavirus cases were confirmed – with one passenger saying the plane was “full of selfish ‘covidiots’ and an inept crew who couldn’t care less.”
Sixteen cases of Covid-19 have been linked to people who took TUI flight 6215 to Cardiff on August 25.
Officials know that seven of those cases were infectious or potentially infectious whilst on the flight, 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 was on the TUI flight to Cardiff and described how passengers were not wearing masks correctly and just seemed to “disregard the rules”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Many passengers didn’t seem to know how to wear the masks correctly or they seemed to just disregard the rules really.
“Lots of the people were wearing the masks underneath their noses or even underneath their chins.
“They were taking the masks off to talk to friends and they were going up and down the aisles to talk to their friends without their masks on.”
Asked about how the crew dealt with this, Ms Whitfield said she noticed a crew member ask one woman to put her mask on.
“But the vast majority of people weren’t being spoken to, and there was a chap sat next to me who had his mask around his chin for the full flight, and the stewardess was talking to him and she didn’t say anything to him,” she said.
Ms Whitfield also told the BBC: “The flight was full of selfish ‘covidiots’ and an inept crew who couldn’t care less.”
Commenting on whether she was surprised to hear about the cases following the flight, she said: “No, we weren’t surprised at all.”
Before arriving back in Cardiff, she and her husband decided to self isolate, and have been doing so since before the news about the flight emerged.
She said they have mild symptoms and are hoping they just have a cold, but are taking a test on Tuesday.
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.
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.
Find out the latest coronavirus cases in your area by putting your postcode into the interactive tool below:
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.”