Crazy: 100+ Passengers Test COVID Positive On Italy To India Flight

More than 120 passengers who arrived on a chartered flight from Italy to the north Indian city of Amritsar tested positive for COVID on Wednesday. Since Italy is one of the “at-risk” countries identified by the Indian Government, all passengers had to take a mandatory COVID test. But so many passengers testing positive at once took everyone by surprise.

Boeing 777 Silhouette
More than 120 passengers on an Italy to India flight tested COVID positive upon arrival. Photo: Getty Images

Most passengers test COVID positive

While the exact timing of the flight differs slightly according to different media reports, many, including India Today, report that flight YU661, operated by Portuguese air charter company EuroAtlantic Airways, landed in Amritsar on Wednesday afternoon. A quick scan of various flight tracking apps, including, confirms this.

The aircraft, a Boeing 767, departed Milan around 2:00 am on January 5th with 179 passengers, including 19 children. Upon landing at Amritsar around 1:30 pm after a 7-hour journey, 160 eligible passengers were asked to take a mandatory RT-PCR COVID test. Once the results arrived, it was found that 125 were positive for the virus.

Crazy: 100+ Passengers Test COVID Positive On Italy To India Flight
The flight was operated by the Portuguese air charter company EuroAtlantic Airways. Photo:

Chaotic situation

While international passengers testing COVID positive at airports is not uncommon these days, so many positive cases from a single flight took everyone by surprise. According to reports, there were heated exchanges between the airport administration and passengers who said they had all tested negative before boarding the flight in Milan.

Many refused to believe that these many could have turned positive during the flight. A relative of one of the passengers outside the airport was surprised to hear of the positive result, noting that it was mandatory to produce COVID negative reports not older than 72 hours before boarding the flight in Italy.

Amritsar Chief Medical Officer Charanjit Singh said that local authorities followed government protocols by not allowing home isolation for international passengers who tested positive. Instead, they will be observed and treated at the hospital.

The Economic Times quoted an official statement by the airport,

“In today’s flight all 125 pax tested positive, are being attended by state health officials. Rest 35 pax tested negative have been advised self monitoring and would be under supervision.”

Rising COVID cases in India

COVID cases in India have increased exponentially over the last week. The country reported 90,000 cases on January 6th, with a surge in the new Omicron variant. There’s also fear of this latest wave affecting the aviation sector as the last two waves did.

As noted by Simple Flying earlier, the Omicron variant did not dent the holiday traffic in India during Christmas, with passenger numbers hovering around 300,000 every day. However, a downward trend is being observed since Tuesday.

A steep rise in cases is always followed by tighter regulations and testing policies across all airports in India. West Bengal is leading the charge this time around, banning flights from the UK and restricting domestic traffic into the state from Delhi and Mumbai.

However, reports suggest that the current wave may not be as severe as the last one, so there’s hope that the aviation sector could emerge out of it in a relatively better shape.