Callum’s doctor had already given him a letter making him exempt from doing a Covid test (Picture: Katy Hollingsworth)
Ryanair staff forced an autistic boy to take a Covid test even though he had a medical note saying he couldn’t cope with it, his mum claims.
Katy Hollingsworth’s family went on holiday to Valencia in Spain and returned home, to Harlow, Essex, on August 3.
But on their way back, her son Callum, 12, ‘lost it’ and had a ‘meltdown’ when he was made to take a coronavirus test, she told the BBC.
The boy, who is autistic and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), had previously been given an exemption letter because his conditions make it too stressful for him.
Callum managed to take a test before he left for his holiday but his parents spent two months preparing him for it.
Ms Hollingswort said: ‘They said if you don’t have a Covid test you can’t go home, so we had no choice. Callum tried to be brave but he was petrified.
‘He started hitting the chair and then started hitting himself. The staff were just ignoring us. All they kept saying was “it’s not our problem”.’
Ryanair told the BBC it ‘regrets to hear of the stress’ the family experiences that day.
Callum’s dad filmed him crying while a woman in personal protective equipment (PPE) tries to speak to him about letting her do the test.
He seems to be asking her not to put the swab so high up his nose. Callum’s dad is narrating the video, telling viewers a GP exemption is ‘not good enough for Ryanair flights’.
At one point, Callum buries his head in his hands and sobs, while shaking his head and telling the nurse ‘no’.
Eventually, a man in PPE crouches beside Callum and tells him to ‘take it easy’, explaining to him that he has to stay still to do the test.
The man holds Callum’s hand while a different woman quickly sticks the swab up his nose and Callum’s dad supportively tells his son: ‘You’re the man’.
Callum had reacted like this when he was tested for coronavirus in January – which is what prompted the GP to give him a letter explaing that he should not be forced to take a test.
Callum kept asking the Ryanair staff not to push the swab so high up his nose (Picture: Katy Hollingsworth)
Ms Hollingsworth hopes sharing their family’s story would help cause changes so others with hidden disabilities would not go through the same thing.
She said: ‘If my child was in a wheelchair or had something you can see, I don’t think they would have treated him the way that they did.’
Ryanair said: ‘Ryanair fully complies with EU and government travel restrictions, which are constantly changing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘We continue to make improvements and implement procedures to ensure the health and safety of our passengers and our crew is prioritised while complying with each country’s government guidelines at all times.’
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