TIRUCHY: In a serious lapse of health security that could trigger a domino effect of infections, a 38- year-old woman, with a Covid-19 positive test report, was allowed to fly from Singapore to Tiruchy on Sunday. The Air India Express flight that had 168 other passengers on board landed at 7.30 am.
The incident came to light only when her travel documents were being scrutinised at the Immigration counter. By then her co-passengers had already left the airport. Airlines sources said the ground-handling agency in Singapore was responsible for the goof-up.
“We have instructed our airlines manager in Singapore to conduct an inquiry, and have sought an explanation from the ground-handling agency, ‘SATS’,” Air India Express chief of corporate communications told The New Indian Express.
An official at the Tiruchy airport said the woman, who is from Pudukkottai district, was taken to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in Tiruchy. “Her co-passengers can easily be traced since their details are with the Immigration department and district administration. But several people will have to be screened, since passengers went home by taxis or were picked up by their family,” said a source.
‘Our officials have started tracing flight passengers’
“The district administration may also have to conduct RT-PCR tests on those working at Immigration and Customs, and other staff at the airport. This serious lapse by the airline has left a humongous task for the district administration to manage,” the source added.
Officials said the airport was later sanitised to ensure the safety of other passengers, and added that this issue has been conveyed to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation. When contacted, Tiruchy District Collector S Sivarasu said officials have started taking steps to ensure the safety of the public. “We have sought an explanation from the airline. Our officials have started tracing the passengers, and steps will be taken to ensure their safety,” he stated.
Officials said the airport was later sanitised to ensure the safety of other passengers, and added that this issue has been conveyed to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Several people to be screened
While those who travelled on the plane can easily be traced, as their details are with the Immigration dept, several others too will have to be screened. “If any of them used public transport to go home, many more people would be at risk,” said a source.