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3 Cathay Pacific pilots broke Covid-19 rules, got fired and infected

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: 3 pilots broke Covid-19 rules and got infected with the virus and lost their jobs.

After what Cathay Pacific described as a serious breach of pandemic regulations, 3 cargo pilots were fired after becoming infected with Covid-19 and putting many others at risk. An internal investigation found the pilots for Hong Kong’s flagship airline broke Covid-19 safety rules while abroad in Frankfurt, Germany. The airline is known for being very proactive about Covid-19 safety and may have been the first to fire staff for refusing to be vaccinated.

Cathay released a statement regarding the firings on Thursday but did not specify the exact details of what the serious breach was, though insiders suspect they left their hotel rooms against policy that expected they stay in isolation during a layover, and further that and lied about it, apparently contracting Covid-19 due to their gaffe.

“After investigation into these cases, regrettably, the findings indicate a serious breach of requirements during crew overseas layovers. The individuals concerned are no longer employed by Cathay Pacific.”

2 of the 3 pilots were diagnosed as having Covid-19 on November 10. During questioning by health authorities doing an epidemiological investigation, the 29 and 57 year old pilots told investigators that they had not participated in any kind of gathering, nor had they left their rooms at all during a stopover in Germany.

Knowingly providing false or misleading information about their medical history, who they had contact with, or where they went is punishable under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance and carries a punishment of HK $10,000 – about 42,000 baht – and up to 6 months in prison.

The impact of their indiscretion was widespread. More than 150 Cathay Pacific staff had to be quarantined after the risk of transmission of their Covid-19 infections. A lot of other close contacts were also sent to Penny’s Bay to stay in a government isolation facility.

The effects rippled further though, outside of Cathay, as one of the pilot’s wives is a teacher at Discovery Bay International school, where their 2 sons also attend. Over 120 students who risked exposure also had to be put into quarantine. 70 more friends of the pilots were also placed into isolation programmes. Cathay apologised for the mess their pilots created.

“We acknowledge the impact these incidents have had on all of our people, their families and the community, especially those who are now being quarantined at a government facility.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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