INDEPENDENT 2024-07-03 04:08:28

Woman, 24, dies on Qantas flight from Melbourne just before takeoff

A 24-year-old woman flying from Melbourne to Delhi on a Qantas flight died suddenly, reportedly from tuberculosis.

Manpreet Kaur was feeling unwell but boarded the flight on 20 June without any issue, her friends said. However, she collapsed and died before the plane departed.

Kaur, an aspiring chef, was travelling to see her family for the first time in four years.

She likely died of tuberculosis, an infectious disease that affects the lungs, the Herald Sun reported.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Manpreet Kaur,” a Qantas spokesperson said in a statement to The Independent.

The airline said that on 20 June, “a customer on our Melbourne to Delhi flight required medical attention shortly after boarding, prior to the aircraft pushing back from the gate”.

“Urgent assistance was provided by both crew and emergency services but sadly she passed away.”

On 1 July, Qantas became aware through media reports that Kaur may have had tuberculosis and contacted Australia’s National Incident Centre Operations seeking further information.

The health issue had not previously been disclosed to Qantas.

On 2 July, the Department of Health, Victoria, informed the company that they have begun limited contact tracing, and all those identified as having a potential risk would be screened.

The department said other people who were on the aircraft at the time would not undergo contact tracing, according to Qantas.

Meanwhile, friends and family remembered Kaur as a kind and honest person.

“Our dear friend Manpreet left us too soon, leaving a void in our lives that can never be filled,” Gurdip Grewal, a friend of Kaur, who also set up a GoFundMe fundraiser, wrote. “As we grieve her passing, we want to come together to honour her memory and support her family in their time of need.”

He reportedly told News Corp that Kaur had been feeling unwell for a while.

Victoria Police and Victoria Ambulance confirmed they attended to the emergency. Police are now preparing a report for the coroner and have confirmed that an investigation is underway.

Kaur moved to Australia in March 2020.

In February this year, a 63-year-old man died after coughing up “litres of blood” on a Lufthansa flight from Bangkok to Munich.

Australia first country to ban sale of vapes outside pharmacies

Australia has banned the sale of e-cigarettes, also known as vapes, outside of pharmacies in new regulations that came into force on Monday in a bid to curb vaping.

Under the new laws, vapes can be sold only in plain colours and packaging from 1 July. They can’t be locally manufactured or advertised.

The laws effectively ban the supply, manufacture, import, commercial possession or sale of vapes at any place other than a pharmacy. The ban applies even to vaping devices that don’t contain nicotine.

Australians must now produce a prescription to buy vapes and even then they cannot buy most flavours that are popular among younger users such as “bubble gum”.

“Therapeutic vaping products will be behind the counter, nicotine concentrations and dispensing quantities will be tightly controlled, they will have plain pharmaceutical-like packaging, and flavours will be restricted to tobacco, menthol and mint,” the Australian government said in a statement last week.

“Pharmacists will be required to check photo ID and, importantly, have a conversation with that person around the health harms of vaping.”

The new laws aim to revert vapes to their intended purpose as therapy for helping people quit smoking.

Mark Butler, the health minister, warned that convenience stores or tobacco shops caught selling vapes would be fined up to Australian $2m ($1.05m) and owners could be jailed for upto seven years.

“The best time to have done this was five years ago. The second-best time is right now,” the minister said.

Australia plans to set up a new government role called the Illicit Tobacco and E-cigarette Commissioner to curb black market sales of vapes.

The country will review the effectiveness of the new laws in three years.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia appeared displeased with the new laws as the body did not yet have any guidelines for dispensing “unregulated substances with no established therapeutic benefit”.

“When we don’t know the long-term effects of vapes on patient safety, how can a pharmacist make an informed decision?” the guild said in a statement last week.

About one in five 18-to-24-year-olds in Australia reported using vapes at least once, a survey found last year.

The new laws, the government said, seek to “protect young Australians and the broader community from the harms of recreational vaping”.

“Recreational vaping is a scourge. It is a public health menace, particularly for children and for young people,” Mr Butler said.

“A product that was presented as a therapeutic good that would help hardened smokers kick the habit finally, has actually been deployed by Big Tobacco as a tool to recruit a new generation to nicotine addiction.”

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