After one British Airways crew member tested positive for COVID-19, all flight attendants on her flight were rousted from their hotel rooms and brought to a quarantine detention center in Hong Kong. One flight attendant has offered ongoing commentary concerning her time in detention, which provides a fascinating look at how Hong Kong is battling the virus.
BA Flight Attendant Shares About Her Life In Hong Kong Quarantine Detention
Flight attendant Ellie Freeman has broadcast her confinement on Snapchat. She worked BA31 from London to Hong Kong on Monday, September 21st. Upon arrival, all members of the flight crew were tested. While it is not clear what took so long, the results only came back on Thursday. One flight attendant tested positive and remains asymptomatic.
Concerned that she had unwittingly infected her colleagues, all flight attendants were taken a government quarantine detention center. Meanwhile, pilots were allowed to return to London.
Freeman has shared the following pictures from her confinement:
As you can see, she has sufficient water and is offered a menu choice including both Chinese or Western food. But the facilities look one-star at best…
She had demanded to go home, along with many of her colleagues and sparked outrage by calling the facilities a “a literal concentration camp.”
British Airways, meanwhile, is more concerned about making their stay comfortable than getting them out:
“We are in regular contact with our crew who are quarantining in line with local Covid regulations, and providing extra supplies to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
“We work closely with governments in every country we fly to, and will always put the safety and wellbeing of our teams and customers at the heart of everything we do.”
Pajamas and towels are on the way. While the Hong Kong government does not charge for “Club Hong Kong” meals and accommodations, any additional amenities cost money. For example, a hand towel runs HKD60 (~USD8).
My Thoughts On This
Obviously the concentration camp comparison is in poor taste. But is the detention itself reasonable?
I tread very carefully when commenting on this incident. While such forced detention runs counter to my very American notions of freedom and individual rights, Hong Kong must be given tremendous credit for taking the virus seriously and largely beating it. As uncomfortable as placing so much value on the collective over the individual is, the numbers are staggering if true. The UK’s COVID infection rate is 10X higher than in Hong Kong.
Obviously, prefect security is theoretically achievable by locking everyone inside and throwing away the key. There must be balance between civil liberties and freedom of movment and assembly, as the very protests in Hong Kong showcased prior to the pandemic.
But I cannot fault Hong Kong for taking steps to isolate people who were directly in contact with those who contracted the virus. How can you when the region has done so well in fighting this virus and protecting its citizens? However, as soon as freshly negative COVID-19 tests return for the flight attendants, they should be allowed on a plane home. Why quarantine in what really amounts to a prison if you do not have the virus? And are CCTV cameras really necessary in a confined facility? I think not.
And did British Airways test its crew members prior to the flight? If not, it is time to start.
There’s no way I’m traveling to Hong Kong anytime soon. Even if I was allowed in, it would not be worth the risk to be stuck in that sort of quarantine. But as easy as it is to condemn Hong Kong for its overreaction, it is simply doing its best to protect its citizens from harm, one of the very purpose of government in the first place. I doubt Freeman and others will be requesting Hong Kong assignments anytime soon, but this incident isn’t quite as bad as it is made out to be in the tabloid press.
(H/T: View from the Wing // image: Ellie Freeman / Facebook)
When you travel to a country you are subject to its laws. Don’t like HK policy on covid, don’t go there. It’s really that simple
Which is essentially what I said…
I went through the same ordeal in China. I tested positive in China. Luckily, the rest of the crew were allowed to operate the flight back to Nairobi. I was left behind and sent to isolation & quarantine. Initially I it was traumatic but eventually I adjusted. The medical team treated me well & I noted how thorough the Chinese are when dealing with the virus.
Whoever credit the HK government handling of Wuhan Coronavirus is a joke, seriously, you have no idea what ordinary people in HK has to deal with the pandemic when everyone is desperately avoiding the pandemic, the HK government is doing everything it can to spread it.
I don’t understand. Can you elaborate?
I am an ordinary person in HK and applaud the HK Govt. The previous poster is probably factoring In politics so judgement is clouded at best.
It is somewhat unfair to call the place a 1 star. 1 star places are really terrible. This is at least 2 star. The meals make it better than 5 stars (funny, 5 star places often lack breakfast for the non-elite and charge for more things).
If the bathroom is not moldy, it is not a 1 star. The furniture is a bit spartan but no indication on comfort of the mattress.
My criteria for a good hotel is 1) clean, 2) good location, 3) comfortable bed, 4) fancy name (if business colleagues/clients or relatives ask), 5) other little things, like individual shampoo containers, 6) points and price
The BA FA should be happy if they are paid for the quarantine but sad if they do not get paid.
Not only HK, most of the Asian countries are doing the same to protect their citizens. This is one of the reason COVID-19 is so well controlled in Asia. Quarantine and freedom won’t exist at the same time
I disagree with saying Asian countries lack freedom (ok, NK and PRC lack it). You can have a short quarantine and still have a society with freedom. That is similar to saying that a country is a dictatorship because you cannot drive 90 mph on the highway.
The biggest difference is in Singapore and Japan and some other countries is that people wear masks. In the US, fools wear bandanas and flimsy cloth masks, not inexpensive surgical masks. Idiots don’t wear masks at all. Sorry for my bad language.
Some would simply define the notion of freedom differently. In most parts of China, citizens are now “free” to move about their daily lives as normal. Aside from near universal mask-wearing in public, nothing is really closed. There’s no social distancing. Things have been that way for months.
Unlike here, there’s no real community transmission there. The prison-like conditions and blatant restrictions on personal liberty aren’t as much a part of day-to-day life as Western media would have its consumers believe (at least not COVID-related restrictions). Instead, where the government clamps down with an iron grip is when any hint of virus spread pops up.
With extreme irony, the average citizen in Communist China probably feels like their government values the sanctity of life and the well being of the individual over that of the United States, which seems to be in a hurry to throw away lives over self advancement.
As a Brit living in HK I have watched with amazement how Boris and his pals have completely screwed up on handling the virus. So glad I am here where infection rates are virtually zero.
The last thing we want is someone importing the virus and being allowed to spread it. The rules are very clear and if you don’t like them then stay at home and don’t come!
I’m heading to HK tomorrow, from the US.
If I’ve read the rules correctly I’ll be quarantined for 2 weeks in the hotel that I have had to pay for myself. Then I’ll allowed to go to my apartment.
I’ve already had a test, but I will be required to have another one when I land.
Remember, Hong Kong has never had a full lockdown unlike the UK, or the US. Although they have done plenty of nonsensical things like closing beaches.
Although her quarantine quarter could be improved (I heard some got 5-star hotel quarantine in Singapore…), I found her demand to be unreasonable. Come home? How? Swim through Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans? Fly commercial where you can’t social distance? Fly private? The last option is actually not bad, if BA has extra cash. But otherwise, how would she go home right now without endangering others?
Why can’t people make reasonable demands? Better accommodation, sure. Better food, sure. TV and computer to connect with friends and family, sure. Socialization among the team, maybe. More and faster testing, of course. But going home? How?
(Finally, she works as international fa during a pandemic. Shouldn’t she know the risk?)
Come on, Ellie. Stop complaining. You’re not in the Hilton, I know, but think of people who are far worse off than you. You’re lucky you have a job and you’re lucky to be in a country whose government is keeping its public from contracting the virus from you. Do you really expect to be flown home now and let people be exposed to possible infection from you? You seem to have forgotten the deaths all round the world, loved ones gone forever, due in many cases to the reckless behaviour of others. Don’t be one of them. It’s just two weeks, your company is paying you, enjoy the rest.
Funny, a lot of small hotels in London are like that. In the US, the rooms and bed tends to be big.
Ungrateful cow. She has a job, unlike thousands of her colleagues, plus a safe, secure and clean place to stay..but moans nonetheless. BA should make it priority to weed out these thick-ankled Sloane Square types: they could‘nt work in an iron lung but will complain..about nothing..until the cows come home.
There is a rumour that the person that tested positive and the rest of the crew were asked to self isolate and stay in their designated hotel. Some ignored this and went out drinking. As a result they were all rounded up and taken to said ‘camp’ … if this is true they deserve to be locked up.
Perhaps if the crew hadn’t flouted the restrictions placed on them they wouldn’t be in that situation? The crew member who tested positive was instructed to quarantine in her hotel room for the duration of her stay but decided going out drinking was a better option. Well they all got what they deserved! These young British Airways crew are a disgrace not only to the company but also the Country.
“While such forced detention runs counter to my very American notions of freedom and individual rights,”
Remind us readers again, what is the Covid 19 statistics in your city, state & country, would ya’?
Don’t misconstrue my sentiment, which heaps great praise on Hong Kong for its control of the virus.
HK did well because we know how to prevent it since most of us has experienced it before, HK government practically did nothing, if not counterproductive.
Go back to throwing rocks in the street, we dont need more disgruntled HKers here
It’s a bit weird that Asian countries think they can suppress an endemic coronavirus. As soon as restrictions are lifted, a lot of people will get sick in Hong Kong. At this point, draconian restrictions — whether in Canada, Hong Kong, China, or New Zealand — are just domestic political theater.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, HK had never imposed any lockdown or shelter in place unlike many other countries. The reason we had a 3rd wave was because of the aircrew members and people working on ship. They were exempt from testing and that’s why were able to import the virus asymptomatic while entering the city. Ever since the HK government find out the loophole, they started to test all crew members since early July. In Singapore, a few months ago when they found out people working on ship imported the virus they just temporary ban them. In HK we didn’t, we just required testing to the crew members in order to protect HK residents.
corrolation between the ability to control coronavirus and dissent in Hong Kong? they came at the same time.
I would like to explain the current quarantine system in HK. Anybody entering HK can choose to either self quarantine at home for 14 days or a hotel of your choice. The only time that someone needs to quarantine at the government facility center are people coming from high risk region or in this case, people who came into close contact of an infected. The reason is HK is a highly dense city. People live in apartments high buildings. If those people who came into contact with infected are not isolated in a center, there is always a high risk they can transmit to the neighbours through common public areas such as elevators. I know those facilities are not any luxury, it’s just a very basic accommodation. I am sure it would be good if they can improve on this part…as nothing is perfect. The government listen to the expertise, scientists… they are just trying to contact tracing, isolate and treat, in hope that they can eradicate the virus so there is no local cases.
*Revised: people coming from high risk region must quarantine in a hotel of your choice.
The facility she is in looks like a dump. Outrageous.