Kochi: A UK national, on a visit to Munnar in the south
Indian state of Kerala, gave a slip to health authorities who had put him under
observation after he exhibited COVID-19 symptoms, and was finally forced to disembark
from an aircraft along with 270 co-passengers soon after his samples tested positive
for the deadly novel coronavirus.
“We contacted the resort authorities after the sample tested
positive but, to our shock, learned the group had left on Saturday night itself.
A frantic search was initiated and we finally traced him to an Emirates aircraft
just minutes before its scheduled departure to Dubai. The UK national and his
wife were rushed to an isolation ward of Kalamassery Medical College. The other
270 co-passengers were disembarked and subjected to screening. The 17 others in
the group were put under observation and their samples will be tested for virus
presence,” said a senior health official.
He was part of a 19-member group which reached the hill
station on March seven. They checked into a resort there on the same day.
However, he was put under observation after he started showing disease symptoms.
His samples were taken for laboratory test on March nine and the test result received
on Saturday evening. But the group checked out of the hotel on Saturday night
itself, violating the standard quarantine protocol even as the resort
authorities failed to inform health authorities.
Following the incident, the airport authorities called an
emergency meeting and initiated measures to de-infect the airport and the
aircraft on a war-footing. The resort in Munnar too was closed and all the
inmates were put under observation.
“We’re tracing all the possible contacts made by the group
and put them under quarantine. There is no alarming situation. We’re not
preventing any foreign national from going back, they are free to travel after
completion of their quarantine period. But the measures to stop spreading of
the infection should be followed in letter and spirit,” said Health Minister K
K Shailaja Teacher.
The Emirates flight later took off with rest of the passengers.