An Indonesian passenger who had tested Covid-positive was caught on board a mid-air flight, masquerading as his wife in order to somehow make it onto the plane.
Though it might sound impossible for the airport staff to make such an oversight, the man – only identified by his initials, DW – had the advantage of wearing a full-face veil known as a niqab when boarding the aircraft. The niqab, similar to a burka, has religious connotations and therefore does not need to be removed when going through customs.
So, since his face was obscured and he was carrying his wife’s passport, as well as her negative Covid test result, there was nothing to suspect he was anyone other than who he said he was.
As dangerous as this breach of Covid guidelines is – most airlines have restricted travel during the Eidh al-Adha holiday which began on July 19th – perhaps the most galling part is how he got caught: he got changed… mid-flight.
In fact, chances are, he never would have been caught had a stewardess not clocked him changing into his regular clothes and subsequently alerting the authorities. Police told reporters that the man was detained as soon as the plane landed and was tested immediately; they say they will look to prosecute him as soon as his quarantine ends.
The incident comes amid strict restrictions on travel in Indonesia, which has rapidly become the epicentre of the virus in Asia. Whilst the Delta variant still ravages a large part of the region and is indeed spreading across the globe, the South-East Asian nation is recording almost 50,000 cases a day alone.
Almost three million people have been infected and more than 72,000 have died in the region, as the nation’s infrastructure continues to buckle, with hospitals becoming overwhelmed and a lack of resources including oxygen tanks.