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Coronavirus: Air India Express in dock after crew member allowed to fly despite testing positive

A detailed inquiry is put in place for the same.

In a shocking revelation, a 44-year-old female crew member of Air India Express was allowed to operate, despite having tested positive for the deadly Coronavirus infection, reported Hindustan Times.

On November 12, the said woman had undergone an RT-PCR test and the results of the test were reportedly available with the airlines around 50 minutes before her scheduled flight from IGI airport in Delhi on November 13. Hindustan Times reported that she was nevertheless allowed to operate throughout the day on the same sector. She even returned to her base station in Delhi by a return flight. The woman was quarantined only the following day.

Air India Express conceded that the crew member had tested positive and has now launched a probe in the case. Although the airlines did not inform whether the woman was symptomatic or asymptomatic, a spokesperson informed, “The said flight was a Delhi-Madurai flight, for which a pre-flight RT-PCR test is not mandatory. The head crew member was to operate the international sector the next day and hence had taken the test. However, she was quarantined from November 14 onwards and no other fellow crew members when tested were found infected. We will, however, surely investigate the matter.”

Allegations of data manipulation against Air India Express

Hindustan Times, cited sources, to allege that Air India Express officials tried to tamper with the report data of the infected crew member in their system. The source had claimed that the officials removed the information about the employee undergoing an RT-PCR test on November 12. As such, there would be no proof of the airline being privy to her condition, if the report wasn’t accessed. “Tampering already logged in data is illegal,” the source emphasised.

Violation of Coronavirus protocols, alleges aviation expert

Another source informed that crew members in domestic flights are allowed to operate, even if their test reports are awaited to avoid shortage of staff. The official stated that it was ‘unacceptable’ to allow an infected crew member to fly, just a days before her scheduled international flight on November 14. Aviation expert Vipul Saxena stated that such an exercise, on the part of the airlines, was a violation of Coronavirus protocols and that last-minute changes to scheduling for crew members was possible. “A detailed inquiry must be initiated to check the symptoms of the head crew member and also whether she was forced to take the flight,” he added.

Hong Kong bans Air India flight for fortnight

Hong Kong in November had banned Air India flights from arriving in the country after a few passengers onboard testing positive for coronavirus. The ban, fifth time since August this year, was in place till December 3. While scheduled flights remain suspended, the Air India has been allowed to operate special flights under the Vande Bharat mission with counris where it has Air Bubble pact in place.

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