Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. – Private flight carrying Chinese passengers landed in Port-au-Prince, a city in the neighboring country of Haiti, after it was denied landing in the Bahamas and Dominican Republic, said the Miami Herald.
Ernst Renaud, director of operations at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, told the Miami Herald that the flight had originated in Dubai with a final destination in the Bahamas. The Bahamas, however, denied the entry of passengers for fear of the outbreak of coronavirus, which continues to spread and has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.
The flight then turned around and headed to the city of Santo Domingo where it refueled and then flew to Port-au-Prince. Wilson Lamour, Renaud’s assistant, said airport officials were not aware of the flight and had no permission to land. Once in Haiti, everyone was kept on the plane due to the health risk.
“They are not allowed to disembark for all the reasons they know, the possibility of coronavirus transmission,” Renaud said later.
Lamour said the flight had a crew of three members and 11 passengers, including Chinese citizens. The pilots had run out of time and were allowed to rest on the plane with the passengers.
Eddy Jackson Alexis, a government spokesman, said France and Portugal agreed to accept the plane and its passengers. The pilots, he said, chose Portugal and were expected to leave Haiti at 2 a.m. on Saturday.
“All measures are being taken to ensure that they do not physically come into contact with the Haitian territory,” said Alexis, who added that police officers guarded the plane and made sure its doors remained closed.
Earlier this week, the Bahamas government announced a travel ban, restricting all trips from China.
Under the ban, any non-resident of the island chain, regardless of nationality, who has visited China in the last 20 days will be denied entry to the Bahamas, the country’s Ministry of Tourism announced this week. Meanwhile, all residents returning to the Bahamas will be quarantined and monitored for symptoms during the incubation period with a maximum of 14 days.
China says the number of deaths from the virus has increased to 259 and the number of confirmed cases has increased to 11,791.
Neither the Minister of Health nor Public Works of Haiti, who oversee the airport, responded to phone calls and text messages from Miamia Herald. But Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond confirmed that precautions were being taken due to the possible public health risk that passengers on the plane could present.
Edmond said a team of specialists from the Ministry of Health, along with representatives of the Pan American Health Organization, were on track.