30th May 2020 @ 9:04 am

135 passengers on Friday’s Iberia Express flight from Madrid to Lanzarote were quarantined yesterday after a 52-year-old man on the flight tested positive for coronavirus.

The man is a Lanzarote resident and had travelled to Ciudad Real in Castilla-La Mancha to attend the funeral of his mother, who died of coronavirus a week ago. Castilla-La Mancha has one of the highest rates on Covid 19 infection in Spain, and Ciudad Real has reported 72 new cases in the last two days.

Health workers in Castilla-La Mancha contacted the man after discovering that he had been in contact with a possible source of the virus, and he was given a PCR test. Although the law forbids suspected cases from travelling until the results of tests are known, the man travelled to Madrid and boarded the flight to Lanzarote.

Yesterday, the Castilla- La Mancha health authorities discovered the test had been positive and tried to contact the man. After learning that he had travelled to Madrid airport, they immediately contacted Canarian authorities, who sent emergency health and security services to wait for the flight to land at Terminal 1 of César Manrique Airport. Guardia Civil officers are considering possible charges against the man.

135 passengers have been told to remain in isolation, with special attention being paid to the 14 travellers who were in closest proximity to the man during the flight. Passengers are being quarantined at their homes or in a hotel in Puerto del Carmen.

The man is the first new case on Lanzarote in 20 days, and arrived just one day after the two remaining patients in the Dr José Molina Orosa Hospital in Arrecife had tested negative.

The head of the Spanish government’s emergency health committee, Fernando Simón, praised the response of Lanzarote’s authorities, saying that “the positive case at a Canarian airport is an example of early detection.”

However, questions have been raised about practices in Madrid, as other passengers have claimed that passengers were permitted to embark at Madrid Barajas without any temperature checks, and that airport staff in Madrid did not inspect documents justifying reasons for travel which must be carried by all passengers.

Canaries want tests at origin

The Canarian tourism councilor, Yaiza Castillo, has proposed that the regional health departments in Spain take responsibility for carrying out tests on passengers who are about to fly.

Castillo made the suggestion at a national tourism conference chaired by Spain’s secretary of State, Isabel María Oliver Sagreras. Her idea is that there will be “sanitary reciprocity” between all of Spain’s regions.

According to Castillo, the measure would “incentivize domestic tourism, combat the fear of contagion that is putting people off booking flights and reduce fear in the destinations that receive tourists.”

Should the measure be adopted, it is likely to form the model for similar measures in international flights.