CMO: Passenger on diverted CAL flight did not die from covid19

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram. Photo by Roger Jacob –

A passenger who died on a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight that was diverted to Puerto Rico last week did not die as a result of covid19.

Two other passengers on that flight tested covid19-positive on their return to Trinidad and Tobago and were treated in accordance with established covid19 protocols.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram made these comments at the virtual health news conference on Wednesday.

Recalling that BW483 was diverted to Puerto Rico on December 13 because a passenger had a medical emergency and subsequently died on the plane, Parasram said, “As far as I am aware, it was not related to covid19.”

As a result of the unplanned diversion, he continued, the PCR tests of 16 passengers on the flight would have gone beyond the 72 hours required to enter TT.

According to the Health Ministry’s quarantine protocols for entering TT, passengers who do not need immediate medical attention and who are unvaccinated, must do a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.

On landing they are taken to a state-supervised quarantine facility for 14 days. Those who test covid19-negative, complete their 14-day quarantine and are discharged once they are asymptomatic. Those who test covid19-positive are immediately transferred to a facility in the parallel health care system for clinical assessment and assignment.

Fully vaccinated people must have a PCR test before they arrive and show proof of being vaccinated with a World Health Organization (WHO)- approved covid19 vaccine. They are not required to quarantine.

Parasram said when the passengers from the stranded flight returned, they were kept at a covid19 stepdown facility and re-tested

“What we found when they actually arrived here, there were 16 people who had actually gone beyond the 72-hour PCR policy.”

Out of those 16, Parasram said, “We got one positive individual. He actually was confirmed because we fast-tracked sequencing, as one of the omicron cases, out of the five that we have so far.”

In a statement on December 19, the ministry said there have been five confirmed cases of the omicron variant. The fourth was the passenger on the CAL flight.

Parasram said another passenger showed covid19 symptoms and was tested.

“So there would have been two cases who were positive and turned out to be the variant of concern on that particular flight.”

Parasram said this reinforces the need for people who travel to closely monitor themselves for symptoms within a 14-day period of returning home, isolate if they are unwell and get treated if they believe they have covid19.

While some countries do not have covid19 protocols such as wearing masks in public, this does not mean that TT nationals should not wear their masks when they are overseas or continue to take all the covid19 precautions they normally take at home.