‘Escaped’ Coronavirus patient derails Kochi-Dubai flight

A UK national who had ‘escaped’ quarantine in Kerala after being suspected for COVID-19 infection was today identified on a flight from Kochi to Dubai, resulting in an indefinite delay in the flight.

The passenger, who was staying at the ‘Tea County’ resort in the hill station of Munnar, was tested for Coronavirus COVID-19 on the basis of his symptoms.

He was moved to a quarantine within the hotel on March 10 while the test results were awaited. However, the passenger had different plans.

“This passenger was in surveillance in Munnar, and he, with that group, came to airport with out informing authorities. By the time the results came, and the authorities came to to know he was there at the airport,” said an airport official.

Since the result of the test was positive, authorities have evacuated all 270 passengers of the Emirates flight from Kochi to Dubai, originally scheduled to take off at 9:30 AM.

At present, the passengers are being put up at a temporary location.

The entire staff of the resort too have been put in quarantine.

“We are trying to locate where all the tourist been to, and figuring out who all needs to be put in quarantine,” said H Dineshan, collector for Idukki district.

The tourist has been touring various places in Kerala, including Thrissur, between March 7 and March 10, when he reached Tea Country resort.

State health authorities have not yet confirmed what they plan to do with the 270 passengers. Airport authorities said they have no update on whether the flight has been cancelled or not.

It is likely that all 270 passengers may be kept under quarantine for a couple of days and released only after testing for the virus again.

Devikulam collectorate indicated that the patient was not supposed to leave his hotel, and was ‘smuggled’ out by a travel agent in his private vehicle.

He said hotel authorities blamed the travel agent for taking the tourist out forcibly.

Kerala is on alert against COVID-19 virus due to the large number of people from the state who work overseas.

Many Keralites who work in Italy and the Gulf countries are returning at the rate of tens of thousands per day, straining the screening and monitoring systems put in place at various airports.

The state put nearly 1,500 people under watch — either at their homes or at hospitals — due to some infected people slipping through the screening systems at hospitals.

A single family of three, who arrived on Feb 29 from Italy, have caused nearly 1,000 people to be put under quarantine and infected around half a dozen people already.