A short clip shared on social media revealed the incident, which happened on a Pisa-bound flight shortly before takeoff on Wednesday according to a Ryanair spokesperson.
The passenger and his travel companion, who have not been named, were escorted off the plane by the airport’s fire service team after the passenger received a positive test result via text alert before departure.
The couple were transferred to the airport’s isolation area and met by public health authorities, while holidaymakers were told to remain seated on the plane.
— Jamie ‘The James’ Jane (@FionnMurphy10)August 26, 2020
In the clip posted to Twitter by a fellow passenger, a group of three officials wearing full personal protective equipment can be seen sweeping a pair of seats while a flight attendant continues to carry out routine checks.
The overhead cabin bins were also disinfected before the flight was allowed to head to Italy an hour and 20 minutes behind schedule, Ryanair confirmed.
Another passenger posted a picture of themselves wearing a facemask on social media, captioned: “The face when you are about to take off and someone gets a text from track and trace.”
A Ryanair spokesperson told the Standard: “A passenger who boarded a flight from London Stansted to Pisa on Wed 26 Aug, received a text message notification before departure that he had tested positive for Covid-19. The passenger & his travel companion were immediately offloaded and taken to a Stansted Airport isolation area where they were assisted by local public health authorities.
“Since this passenger & his companion had complied fully with Ryanair health regulations, they were both wearing masks at all times at Stansted Airport and for the very short period (less than 10 mins) they were seated on the aircraft prior to departure. There was little if any risk of C19 transmission to other passengers or crew members as all of whom were also wearing face masks at all times.
“The aircraft departed for Pisa following a delay of 1hr 20 mins to allow for the empty seats and overhead cabin bins to be disinfected to comply with all UK health authority guidance. Ryanair apologises to all passengers for this short delay”.
A Stansted Airport spokesperson said: “The airport were made aware of the passenger by the airline and our fire service attended the aircraft and escorted the passenger (and travel partner) to an isolation area where they were put in contact with Public Health England, who then oversaw the passenger's onward journey.”
The NHS England website states that any person experiencing symptoms should remain at home.
Advice from the Department of Health and Social Care says: “If you are getting a coronavirus test because you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with must self-isolate until you get your result.
“This also applies to anyone in your support bubble.”
The DHSC advises “anyone with symptoms across the UK” to “get a test as soon as possible“.
Results for tests, taken at a drive-thru or at home, aim to deliver a result within 48 hours. The wait can extend to 72 hours.
The DHSC has said it is “increasing capacity to 500,000 [tests per day] by the end of October.”