A passenger was pulled off a Ryanair flight by staff in hazmat suits after receiving a text message saying he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Holidaymakers watched on in shock as airport workers boarded the plane and removed the man and his friend minutes before it was due to take off from Stansted Airport on Wednesday evening.
The plane eventually set off for Pisa, Italy, more than an hour late after it was grounded while their empty seats and overhead cabins were disinfected.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said the pair were taken to an isolation area in the airport where they were put in contact with Public Health England (PHE).
Video footage of the incident, shared on Twitter by @FionnMurphy10, shows passengers leaning out of their seats to get a better view as two people dressed head to toe in white protective gear approach the man and his companion near the front of the aircraft.
A spokesperson for Stansted Airport said in a statement: “I can confirm we (as the airport) were made aware of the passenger by the airline and members of the airport’s fire service attended the aircraft and escorted the passenger (and travel partner) to an isolation area where they were put in contact with Public Health England, who then oversaw the passenger’s onward journey.”
The passenger, who has not been identified, may have broken coronavirus quarantine rules if he left home and boarded the plane after showing symptoms of the virus, or if he received the text message before getting on the flight.
A Ryanair spokesperson said it was unlikely the other passengers would have been at risk of catching the virus from the man because he was wearing a face mask.
The airline said in a statement: “A passenger who boarded a flight from London Stansted to Pisa on Wednesday 26 August received a text message notification before departure that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
“The passenger and his travel companion were immediately offloaded and taken to a Stansted Airport isolation area where they were assisted by local public health authorities.
“Since this passenger and his companion had complied fully with Ryanair health regulations – they were both wearing masks at all times at Stansted Airport and for the very short period (less than 10 mins) they were seated on the aircraft prior to departure – there was little if any risk of Covid-19 transmission to other passengers or crew members, all of whom were also wearing face masks at all times.