Thirteen Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) workers have been placed under self-quarantine for 14 days after working on flights which were eventually discovered to have transported a coronavirus (COVID-19) into Trinidad and Tobago.
Caribbean Airlines said it was advised that the passenger travelled on March 7 on flight BW521 from the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to the Piarco International Airport in transit (on the same day), eventually leaving T&T on board flight BW526 from Piarco International to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Guyana.
The woman, 52, subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 at a public health facility in Guyana and died on Wednesday.
Speaking with Guardian Media yesterday, CAL corporate communications manager Dionne Ligoure said, “As soon as word was received yesterday (Wednesday) we immediately activated all plans.”
Ligoure explained that while CAL’s medical unit was in contact with the affected employees, the public health authorities had been in control of the quarantine. However, she added that the employees are “strictly adhering” to the regulations.
She said an employee hotline has also been set up and CAL is actively monitoring what she described as an “evolving issue.”
Ligoure stressed that, “good health and safety of customers and employees is our highest priority.”
In this regard, customers who were on the said flights are now being sought out by CAL and public health authorities.
“So both bodies are reaching out to the customers and to all persons who may possibly have been affected,” Ligoure said.
However, she maintained that secondary contact is not considered real exposure.
As it relates to the effect on flights, Ligoure said the airline had activated contingencies for any negative impact.
“There have been some cancellations on some of the routes affected by COVID-19,” she said.
Ligoure said it would be “naive” not to anticipate economic fallout due to the pandemic.
In a media release, CAL also said aircraft are cleaned daily at all ports in keeping with industry standards. Further, in this instance, additional sanitisation processes were used as outlined by the regulatory authorities.