JM | Dec 5, 2020

Deportee from UK tests positive for COVID-19

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Man now in isolation at medical facility in Kingston, claims he traveled on packed flight with persons removing masks

One of the 13 Jamaicans deported from the United Kingdom to the island on Wednesday has tested positive for COVID-19.

The UK Guardian is today reporting that the Jamaican government has confirmed the positive test. The man is being held in isolation at a hospital in Kingston in line with Jamaica’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

He had been in detention in the UK for almost a month before his deportation on Wednesday on a charter flight to Kingston. Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, the man, whose name is being withheld, said: “I don’t know where I got COVID, but the deportation flight was very crowded and people were taking their masks off.”

The Guardian reported that the man was coughing badly during the telephone interview from the hospital, where he is being treated.

During the call he declared: “I’m very angry that the Home Office has failed to protect me.”

He further reported that he was being well cared for at the Jamaican medical facility.


British Home Secretary Priti Patel (Photo: Financial Times)

British Home Secretary Priti Patel is already feeling the backlash from the positive confirmation with members of the Windrush generation accusing the British government minister of deeply insulting behaviour. They charged that many groups and prominent individuals had raised concerns about the COVID-19 risk of chartering a flight to Jamaica during the pandemic, but their cries fell on deaf ears.

“This is exactly the issue that I raised in letters to Priti Patel and to the Jamaican prime minister, Andrew Holness. The Home Office has shown a blatant disregard for due diligence.”

BISHOP DESMOND JADDOO, chair of the Windrush National Organisation

Chair of the Windrush National Organisation, Bishop Desmond Jaddoo wrote to the Home Secretary on November 30, raising concerns about the flight, including the pandemic risk. He questioned why the British government was going ahead with the charter flight in light of the risks with COVID-19.

According to Jaddoo: “This is exactly the issue that I raised in letters to Priti Patel and to the Jamaican prime minister, Andrew Holness. The Home Office has shown a blatant disregard for due diligence. This raises the issue of the Home Office rushing to do something without following due process. They should be held to account. We know for a fact that not everyone on that flight is a murderer or a rapist.”

The plane, which transported 13 Jamaicans, took off on Wednesday after 23 others slated for deportation on the same charter flight got a last minute reprieve, owing to legal challenges initiated on their behalf. The Guardian reported that the man, who has convictions for drugs offences, was taken under police escort to the St Joseph’s medical facility in Kingston, where he will be held under quarantine for 14 days.

According to reports reaching Our Today, he was not showing symptoms this afternoon (December 5). When contacted, a Home Office spokesperson rejected claims that the flight was not COVID-compliant or posed an exceptional risk.

The spokesperson based the stance on the fact that all individuals onboard the charter flight would have been assessed by a healthcare professional before they left the immigration removal centre. The spokesperson explained that this would have included a temperature check and all would have been tested and had access to quarantine accommodation on their arrival in Jamaica.


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