One of the 13 prisoners deported from the UK to Jamaica on Wednesday has tested positive for Covid-19, the Jamaican government has confirmed.
The man is being held in isolation at a hospital in the capital, Kingston. He had been in detention in the UK for almost a month before his deportation.
From the unit where he is being looked after, the man told the Guardian: “I don’t know where I got Covid but the deportation flight was very crowded and people were taking their masks off.” Coughing badly during the call, he added: “I’m very angry that the Home Office has failed to protect me.”
He said he was being well cared for in the Jamaican facility.
The flight has led to accusations by members of the Windrush generation of deeply insulting behaviour from the home secretary, Priti Patel.
Many concerns were raised about the Covid risk of chartering a flight to Jamaica during the pandemic.
Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, the chair of the Windrush National Organisation, wrote to the home secretary on 30 November raising concerns about the flight including the virus risk. He asked why such a flight was being chartered while commercial flights were not going ahead.
The plane, carrying 13 convicted criminals, took off on Wednesday. Twenty-three other prisoners were left off it following legal challenges.
The man, who has convictions for drugs offences, has been taken under police escort to the St Joseph’s medical facility in Kingston, where he will be held under quarantine for 14 days. At the moment he does not have any symptoms.
Dozens of public figures including the model Naomi Campbell and the actor Thandie Newton signed an open letter last month calling on airlines not to carry out Wednesday’s flight.
They said the deportation flight brought “risks of unlawful and wrongful deportations” and urged airlines to boycott it.
Jaddoo said: “This is exactly the issue that I raised in letters to Priti Patel and to the Jamaican prime minister, Andrew Holness. The Home Office has shown a blatant disregard for due diligence. This raises the issue of the Home Office rushing to do something without following due process. They should be held to account. We know for a fact that not everyone on that flight is a murderer or a rapist.”
The Home Office has been approached for comment.
Officials previously told the Guardian when asked about the Covid risk of the Jamaica flight: “Each week we remove foreign criminals from the UK to different countries who have no right to be here, this flight is no different and the people being detained for this flight include convicted murderers and rapists.
“We completely reject claims that this flight is not Covid-compliant or poses an exceptional risk – all individuals will be assessed by a healthcare professional before they leave the immigration removal centre, which will include a temperature check, and all will be tested and have access to quarantine accommodation upon their arrival into Jamaica.”