Couple arrested, facing jail for flying home after testing positive for COVID

Test results for COVID-19 are notoriously unreliable.
Thu Dec 3, 2020 - 2:47 pm EST
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LIHUE, Hawaii, December 3, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As governments around the world attempt to lock down their countries once more, a couple has been arrested for flying back to their home in Hawaii after having tested positive for COVID-19.

Wesley Moribe and Courtney Peterson are residents of Kauai, one of Hawaii’s islands. They were flying with United Airlines from San Francisco to Lihue, Hawaii on November 29. During pre-flight testing, they had tested positive for the coronavirus and continued on their journey home along with their four-year-old son. It is not known whether the couple was experiencing any symptoms.

Speaking for United Airlines, Coco Zickos said that “San Francisco International Airport officials had instructed them to isolate and not to travel,” but Moribe and Peterson boarded the flight.

Upon arrival at Lihue airport, the couple was apprehended by police, and placed in “an isolation room for further processing and investigation.” Their son had to be taken home by a relative, and NBC reports that Child Protective Services (CPS) were called.

The couple was later released on a $1,000 bail and charged with “second-degree reckless endangering.” If convicted, they could face a $2,000 fine and even up to a year in jail.

Contact tracing is reportedly being carried out, so as to ensure that people the couple may have had contact with isolate as well. As of Wednesday, all travelers arriving into Kauai will be “subject to a 14-day self-quarantine regardless of testing.”

In her statement, Zickos went so far as to say that the couple “knowingly boarded a flight aware of their positive COVID-19 test results, placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death.”

Speaking to The Hill, a United Airlines spokesperson stated, “Prior to traveling, all United customers are required to complete a ‘Ready to Fly’ checklist acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.”

Moribe and Peterson have since been banned from flying with United in the future.

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The heavy penalty which they could yet incur is consistent with similar fines being brought in around the globe with regards to COVID-related rules. In October, a young Australian family was fined $10,000 after crossing over the arbitrary line marking the city border in order to stock up on vitamins and groceries.

In the U.K., too, people may be fined up to £10,000 for not isolating due to exposure to the virus.

As to the reliability of airport testing, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson caused confusion in September when he suggested that airport testing for COVID-19 was not accurate. Speaking to the BBC, Johnson said that “everyone thinks you can have some test at the airport that will answer whether you’ve got [the coronavirus] or not. Unfortunately, it only works in seven percent of the cases; 93 percent of the time you could have a real false sense of security, false sense of confidence when you arrive and take a test.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab appeared to interpret the numbers differently, saying “the false positive rate is very high. It’s only 7 percent of tests that will be successful in identifying those who actually have the virus, so the truth is that you can’t just rely on that.”

Evidence suggesting that COVID-19 tests are in fact not reliable continues to emerge. In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released guidelines for COVID-19 rapid antigen testing, in which it told medical workers to “expect some false positives.” According to the FDA, the accuracy of rapid tests depends almost totally on the amount of COVID-19 in the population being tested. “As disease prevalence decreases, the percent of test results that are false positives increase,” the FDA stated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also weighed in on the matter. “People who receive positive results on an antibody test but don’t have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been around someone who may have COVID-19 are not likely to have a current infection” and should “continue with normal activities,” the CDC said.

  covid-19, lockdowns, travel ban, united airlines

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