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COVID-19 Positive Woman Dies on a Flight in the US; Other Passengers Were Not Informed

FILE - This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the company. A late-stage study of Johnson & Johnsons COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been paused while the company investigates whether a study participants unexplained illness is related to the shot, the company announced Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Cheryl Gerber/Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson via AP, File)

FILE - This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the company. A late-stage study of Johnson & Johnsons COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been paused while the company investigates whether a study participants unexplained illness is related to the shot, the company announced Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Cheryl Gerber/Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson via AP, File)

This case shows the complex procedure in the investigations of Covid-19 deaths and the coordination required between local, state and federal systems.

A woman on a Spirit Airlines flight died of Covid-19 and her fellow passengers were not even notified about the same. Exposing the lack of action from the authorities, a Washington Post report says that the spokesperson from the airlines, Erik Hofmeyer informed that the health authorities never asked the company to share the list of the passengers who travelled with the Covid-19 positive woman.

The 38-year-old woman was traveling to the city of Dallas in the US state of Texas from Las Vegas in July. She was obese and had the respiratory condition asthma. During the flight, she started experiencing difficulty in breathing. She became unconscious as her inhaler and oxygen supply failed to help.

The flight was diverted to the city Albuquerque in the US state of New Mexico where a representative from the Office of the Medical Investigator declared her dead. The airlines had alerted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when the woman had died on its flight and had received an acknowledgement from them as well. But CDC has denied that they were contacted by the airlines.

However, as per the report, both the CDC and the state health authorities in Albuquerque have accepted that they failed to investigate the death. The report quotes an epidemiologist at the state health department, Dan Sosin who said that the death investigators in Albuquerque were informed within two days that the woman had tested positive for coronavirus.

But as per Sosin, the health department received test results from the lab and not from the Office of Medical Investigator. Therefore, they never knew that the woman was on the plane and did not ask CDC for an investigation.

According to the autopsy report, which was released in September, the woman had died of Covid-19 which was aggravated by asthma and obesity. She was finally added to the Covid-19 death count by Dallas county on October 18.

This case shows the complex procedure in the investigations of Covid-19 deaths and the coordination required between local, state and federal systems.

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