Covid Positive Passenger Dresses As Wife To Avoid Virus Checks

A COVID-positive man in Indonesia recently decided he could not wait to travel until he was free of the virus. Therefore, he took his wife’s ID and her negative test certificate, dressed up in her niqab, and boarded a plane. He may have gotten away with it had he not decided to change into his own clothes halfway through the flight.

Citilink A320
A passenger traveling on a Citilink flight from Jakarta to Ternate dressed up in his wife’s niqab to be able to fly after having tested positive for COVID-19. Photo: Getty Images

There have been plenty of reports of fake COVID test certificates. Or a group of Belgian youngsters getting on a plane home from their holiday while suspecting they could very well have been infected. However, instances of people knowing they are COVID positive and still doing their utmost to travel have fortunately been few and far between – as far as we know.

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A whole new passenger on board

Meanwhile, a man in Indonesia went to great lengths to be allowed on board a domestic Citilink flight from Jakarta to Ternate. The man, who is referred to by officials only by his initials ‘DW”, dressed in his wife’s niqab, covering him from head to toe. He also grabbed her passport, negative COVID-19 test certificate, and took off for the airport.

Boarding agents at Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport in Jakarta suspected nothing. The man’s ruse might have remained successful had he not thought it a good idea to change back to his own clothes mid-flight. A cabin crew member saw a fully-covered and veiled person enter the lavatory, only to emerge minutes later wearing entirely different clothing.

Ternate Airport Runway
The man was detained upon arrival at Ternate Airport. Photo: Fabio Achilli via Flickr

Isolated and could be facing arrest

The crew member notified the authorities at the arrival destination of Ternate, and the passenger was detained after deboarding. An on-duty health officer immediately tested the man for COVID-19, and the results came back positive. The man is now in self-isolation and could face arrest.

“He bought the plane ticket with his wife’s name and brought the identity card, the PCR test result, and the vaccination card with his wife’s name,” Ternate police chief Aditya Laksimada said after arresting the man, as reported by USA Today Travel.

Authorities have tightened restrictions on non-essential travel during the Eid al-Adha holiday this week, as virus cases in the country continue to surge with over 50,000 new cases per day.

Citilink A320
Citilink operates Airbus A320s and A320neos between Jakarta and Ternate. Photo: PK-REN via Wikimedia Commons

Citilink is the low-cost brand of flag carrier Garuda Indonesia. The carrier operates a daily service between Jakarta and Ternate, deploying either an Airbus A320 or A320neo on the route.

Thanks to modern aircraft’s state-of-the-art ventilation systems (who had ever known HEPA filters were to become such a hot topic), the risk of catching COVID on board a plane is minuscule. The wearing of face masks reduced the risk even more. However, being seated within three rows of an infected person still presents a perilous situation.