Coronavirus: Tui halts trips to Zante resort of Laganas after virus clusters


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Media captionTravel expert “very, very concerned” about Zante to Cardiff coronavirus flight

Travel company Tui has cancelled all holidays to a party resort on a Greek island because of customers failing to follow coronavirus safety measures.

Tui said it would no longer be offering trips to the resort of Laganas, on Zante, from Thursday.

It comes after six clusters of cases were linked to flights from the island.

The UK government is under pressure to reconsider England’s quarantine rules for Greece, after both Scotland and Wales introduced their own measures.

The Scottish government announced all travellers arriving from Greece would be asked to self-isolate for 14 days after 04:00 BST on Thursday, while Wales’ health minister has asked those arriving from Zante to quarantine.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, said anyone who had booked to go Laganas after 3 September would be refunded for the cancellation, but that trips to all other resorts on Zante would continue as normal.

“Laganas is a popular resort with young people who traditionally holiday in large groups of friends,” he said.

“The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our primary concern and recent cases shows that some customers are not following social distancing and Covid safety measures.

“It is therefore the right thing to do to protect and reduce a now identified potential risk to others by no longer offering holidays to this specific resort.”

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Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said people returning from Zante posed a public health risk

Nearly 200 people faced self-isolation after at least 16 passengers on a Tui flight from Zante to Cardiff Airport tested positive for the virus. Some people claimed passengers were not following Covid-19 rules.

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there were six clusters of cases, amounting to more than 30 infections, linked to flights from the Greek island in the past week – including two flights which landed in England.

Mr Gething called on the UK government to agree to meeting the devolved nations on Wednesday to urgently discuss removing Greece from the nations’ quarantine exemptions lists. The meeting usually goes ahead on Thursdays.

His comments came shortly after the Scottish government announced its own decision.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “With Scotland’s relatively low infection rate, importation of new cases from Greece is a significant risk to public health.”

When a country surpasses 20 cases per 100,000 people in the past week, the UK government normally imposes 14 days of self-isolation on returning travellers.

There were 14.0 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Greece in the seven days to 31 August, down from 14.9 a week earlier. But several cases of the virus in Scotland have been traced back to Greece, including a passenger on a Tui flight from Zante to Glasgow on 23 August.

Tui said customers due to travel to Greece from Scotland would be able to amend or cancel their holiday in light of the quarantine announcement.

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Media captionTui boss Andrew Flintham says the government should consider “regional travel corridors”

Meanwhile, ministers are considering reimposing quarantine measures for those arriving in the UK from Portugal as coronavirus cases rise, sources have told the BBC.

It has been less than two weeks since a travel corridor was established between Portugal and the UK, following a sustained period of falling cases in the country that put it below 20 cases per 100,000 people.

But holidaymakers are scrambling to return from Portugal amid fears the country is about to be taken off the list.

As of 1 September, the UK recorded 25.0 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the past fortnight while Portugal recorded 36.7, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Every year, more than two million Britons visit Portugal, making up the largest number of overseas tourists to the country.

Over May and June, the Portuguese government reopened its restaurants, coffee shops, museums and beaches. Hotels have mainly reopened, but nightclubs remain closed.

The government has not commented on whether requirements for arrivals from Portugal will change again.

Last week, Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic joined France, Spain and other destinations on the UK’s quarantine list.



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Coronavirus: ‘Covidiots’ criticised on Tui quarantine flight


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Nearly 200 passengers on a flight back from the Greek island of Zante have been told to self-isolate

A flight from Zante which left nearly 200 people facing two weeks’ self-isolation was a “debacle” and a “free-for-all”, passengers say.

One traveller said the Tui flight was full of “covidiots” and “inept crew who couldn’t care less”. Another claimed there “wasn’t much” policing of rules.

Sixteen passengers on flight TOM6215 from the Greek island to Cardiff have now tested positive.

Tui said safety was a priority and it was concerned by the claims.

“Our crew are trained to the highest standards,” the airline said. “A full investigation is now under way as these concerns weren’t reported during the flight or before today.”

The 193 passengers and crew who were on board the flight on 25 August are being asked to self-isolate for a fortnight.

Health officials said seven people from three different parties are believed to have been potentially infectious on board the aircraft.

Public Health Wales’ Dr Giri Shankar told BBC Radio Wales people returning from Zante in particular are “picking up the infection and are coming to our attention”.

Greece and its islands remain on the UK government’s list of quarantine-exempt countries, meaning travellers do not need to self-isolate on their return.

But the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Zante on 29 August to reflect local coronavirus restrictions put in place on the island.

‘Debacle’

Stephanie Whitfield said she and her husband had decided to self-isolate before they had even learned about the positive cases.

“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,” Ms Whitfield said.

“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.”

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Stephanie Whitfield

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Stephanie Whitfield said she and her husband had decided to isolate for two weeks before learning about the positive cases

Ms Whitfield told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme 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 [about the mask],” she said.

The couple have now sent off for a test as they are experiencing mild symptoms, she added.

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Victoria Webb is concerned she only found out about the outbreak from a media report

Victoria Webb was also on the flight and said she only became aware of the outbreak when her mother sent her a link to the BBC News story as she travelled home to London from Cardiff.

“I was surprised and slightly at a loss as to what the best course of action was as I was mid-journey,” she said.

“I spoke to the train manager who was concerned but professional and eventually, after some discussion with his head office, moved me to a carriage where I was alone for the remainder of the journey.

“We also swapped details so I could inform him when I had my test result back.”

She has now quarantined in line with government advice, but said she has received no communication from health bodies, such as track and trace.

“The contact forms are there to be used and communication should be swift and thorough so we know process is being followed and can measure its effectiveness,” she added

What is the guidance?

Government guidance for airline passengers states it is mandatory for travellers in Wales, England and Scotland to wear face coverings on board aircraft, while they are recommended in Northern Ireland.

Passengers should remain seated “as much as possible” and “follow instructions and guidance from crew”, it adds.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) recommends mandatory face-coverings for passengers and masks for crew as one of several actions to reduce what it says is the already low risk of contracting Covid-19 on board aircraft.

Additional measures proposed:

  • Temperature screening of passengers, airport workers and travellers
  • Boarding and alighting processes that reduce contact with other passengers or crew
  • Limiting movement within the cabin during flight
  • More frequent and deeper cabin cleaning
  • Simplified catering procedures to lower crew movement and interaction with passengers

Iata does not recommend restricting the use of the middle seat to create social distancing while onboard aircraft.

‘Free-for-all’

Another passenger on the flight, Lee Evans, described chaotic scenes at Zante airport where he said staff members handled passengers’ phones to check boarding passes.

“It was a free-for-all to get on the plane,” he told the BBC. “There were people switching seats.”

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Lee Evans

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Lee Evans said passengers were not keeping 2m apart at the gate before boarding the flight

While the requirement to wear masks was reinforced on board, Mr Evans added: “There wasn’t much in terms of policing what customers were doing on the aeroplane.”

He described an email telling him and his family to self-isolate – which came almost a week after the flight – as a “shock”. “Someone needs to be held to account,” he said.

Another passenger, who only wanted to be identified as Lewis, said he had flown 11 times in the last six weeks with various airlines and all other flights were fine except for the Tui one.

“The flight was poorly managed by Tui,” he said.

“Tui did announce that it was a requirement that the masks where kept on. It was said about four times.

“We made cabin crew aware that people were constantly removing their mask. No cabin crew approached those people. I’ve not experienced that from any flight I have had elsewhere.”

He said people responded to requests from staff to make it known if they thought they had symptoms – and those were moved to the front where the curtain was closed.

“There were used wipes in my seat pocket when I got on, so the plane wasn’t as clean as they said,” he added.

“We should have been told to isolate before we got off the plane. We only found out from the news that this had happened.

“Five days later, I can’t tell you how many people I have had contact with.”

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Media captionQuarantine: How do I self-isolate coming back from abroad?

Travel expert Simon Calder said he was concerned about the length of time taken to contact people.

“It’s absolutely imperative that people follow the rules,” he said.

“By way of mitigation, speaking for cabin crew in general rather than for Tui who say they’ve got an investigation in place, it’s very tough to police a late evening flight from a party island like Ibiza – or in this case Zante.

“They have to have regard for their own safety. Add to that there are legal exemptions for mask-wearing and it all becomes quite complicated.

“But what really worries me is the timing of all this. It’s six days since that flight landed.

“We’re supposed to fill in passenger locator forms with all our details and one would assume that as soon as any case is identified Public Health Wales would be on the case with everybody rather than leaving the best part of a week.”

Tui said in a statement on Monday: “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.”

Dr Shankar, PHW’s Covid-19 incident director, told BBC Breakfast that public health officials initially identified seven people who had tested positive and were potentially infectious on the flight.

He said since they began alerting passengers, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 16, but it was unclear where they had contracted the virus.

He said that any of the 187 passengers and six crew on board the three-and-a-half hour flight from Zakynthos to Cardiff Airport on Tuesday that had symptoms “should book a test without delay”.

It comes as a group of people from Plymouth tested positive for the virus after returning from Zante last Monday.

There were 1,715 new coronavirus cases – and one death – reported in the UK on Sunday – the highest number of daily infections recorded since 4 June.

Cardiff Airport, which is owned by the Welsh Government, said it was working closely with airlines to “facilitate passenger travel throughout this challenging time for the industry”.

“Tui is taking every necessary measure following today’s report,” said Spencer Birns, Cardiff Airport’s interim chief executive.

“Cardiff Airport is closely following guidelines set out by Public Health Wales, FCO and UK government and has already taken a number of measures to ensure the safety and security of our team and customers, which is our number one priority.”

Were you on Tui flight TOM6215 from Zante to Cardiff on Tuesday?

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Greece islands tighten restrictions as Tui flight imports Covid cases to UK



Greece has imposed new travel restrictions on the popular party island of Zante, as an entire plane of British tourists were advised to quarantine after returning from the island to the UK.

Health officials have revealed that seven people on Tui flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff last week have tested positive for Covid-19. Public Health Wales (PHW) has contacted the 193 passengers and crew on board.

The Foreign Office has updated its advice for travel to Greece, adding information about local restrictions in Paros, Antiparos and Zante including the suspension of live events, a ban on gatherings of nine or more people, and a limit of four people per table at restaurants.

There is currently no quarantine advisory for travellers returning from Greece, though with cases rising it looks increasingly likely that the UK will strip the country of its ‘green’ status this Thursday.

Last week, a group of teenagers returning from Zante to Plymouth also tested positive for the virus. The travellers, aged 18 and 19, had few or no symptoms of the virus, and were advised to self-quarantine immediately.

Of the flight from Zante to Cardiff, Tui said all passengers complied with Covid protocols “for the duration of their flight”, and that all aircraft have “state-of-the-art, hospital standard air filtering system”, as well as being deep-cleaned between flights. The planes are also “fully disinfected at least once every 24 hours”, in accordance with European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) protocol.





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Coronavirus: Cases on Tui flight from Zante to Cardiff


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The passengers arrived in Cardiff from the Greek island of Zante on Tuesday

Covid-19 cases confirmed on Greek island flight

All passengers who were on a flight to Wales from a Greek island have been told to self-isolate after some on board tested positive for coronavirus.

Health officials say seven people from three different parties on Tui flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff on Tuesday have tested positive for Covid-19.

Public Health Wales (PHW) is contacting the 193 passengers and crew on board.

It comes as a group of people from Plymouth tested positive for the virus after returning from Zante on Monday.

“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,” said Giri Shankar of PHW.

“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.”

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Zante is a popular tourist destination for holidaymakers from the UK

Dr Shankar, PHW’s Covid-19 incident director, said any of the 187 passengers and six crew on board the three-and-a-half hour flight from Zakynthos to Cardiff Airport on Tuesday that has symptoms “should book a test without delay”.

Stephanie Whitfield, from Cardiff, who was on the flight with her partner, told the BBC she was not surprised.

She said she and her husband “decided to isolate for two weeks on the flight”, before they even learnt about the positive cases.

“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 said she and her husband had both had sent off for a test and would return it as soon as possible.

“We’ve got a few symptoms, but we hope it’s a cold. We’ve had a bit of a cough, a sore throat, a headache.

“I’m angry more than anything.”

There were 1,715 new coronavirus cases – and one death – reported in the UK on Sunday – the highest number since 4 June.

While no new deaths with coronavirus were reported in Wales on Sunday, 56 cases have been confirmed by PHW.

The seven cases on board the Tui flight are included in the 12 new cases reported in the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area.

Tui said all passengers complied with Covid protocols “for the duration of their flight” including wearing face masks.

The travel operator added their aircraft have “state-of-the-art, hospital standard air filtering system”, are deep cleaned after every flight and “fully disinfected at least once every 24 hours” in accordance with European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) guidelines.

“The safety and well-being of passengers and crew is our highest priority and we operate in line with EASA guidelines,” said a Tui spokesperson.

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Cardiff Airport

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Cardiff Airport, bought by the Welsh Government in 2013, is Wales’ busiest airport

Cardiff Airport, which is owned by the Welsh Government, said it was working closely with airlines to “facilitate passenger travel throughout this challenging time for the industry”.

“Tui is taking every necessary measure following today’s report, said Spencer Birns, Cardiff Airport’s interim chief executive.

“Cardiff Airport is closely following guidelines set out by Public Health Wales, FCO and UK Government and has already taken a number of measures to ensure the safety and security of our team and customers, which is our number one priority.”



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