Record number of people on flight test positive for coronavirus

The flight was from India to Hong Kong

Helen Coffey
Monday 19 April 2021 09:56 BST
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<p>The outbreak was traced to a Vistara flight</p>

The outbreak was traced to a Vistara flight

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A record number of imported coronavirus infections from a flight to Hong Kong was traced to a service from India.

Two weeks after flight 6395 from Delhi had touched down on 4 April, operated by Indian airline Vistara, 47 passengers tested positive for Covid-19.

All passengers onboard had tested negative for the virus within 72 hours of the flight’s departure, as per Hong Kong’s travel requirements.

However, an initial test after the flight saw 25 travellers test positive, and a further 22 cases were discovered on day 12.

Hong Kong’s previous record of infections linked to a single flight was 26, after an Emirates flight from Dubai on 20 June.

India is currently struggling with a new, more infectious double mutation variant of the virus which has seen a steep incline in infection rates since the start of April.

“What we are dealing with here is a catastrophe,” Dr Sharad Awachar, who is working in a hospital in Mumbai, told the Independent.

“I have to look after 75 beds of an ICU daily and the input of patients is way more than the output. We are at full capacity.”

India’s outbreak is worse now than it was at any point last year, with daily spikes of more than 200,000 new infections over a 48-hour period in the last week.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has previously claimed that catching coronavirus on a flight is less likely than being struck by lightning.

Research published by Iata said that between January and July 2020, there were just 44 cases where coronavirus was thought to have been transmitted during a flight. This number included confirmed, probable and potential cases.

At the same time, the industry association said that 1.2 billion passengers had travelled by air in that period, representing a one in 27 million probability of catching Covid-19 on a flight – significantly less than the chances of being struck by lightning, which is around one in 500,000 according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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