District collector, local police chief officer and 20 other officials who were part of the rescue operating in the Calicut Air India plane crash last week have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, a medical officer in Malappuram said.
The airplane which carried 184 passengers from Dubai was a part of centre's Vande Bharat Mission that aims at bringing back Indians stranded abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They were quarantined after the rescue operations at the plane crash site ended. Most of them were on location," the district medical officer said.
Malappuram has the second highest number of Covid positive cases -- 1,965 cases, after the state capital district.
Kerala is likely to witness a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the months of August and September with daily infections expected to touch between 10,000 to 20,000, State Health Minister K K Shailaja said.
"Experts have opined that during the months of August and September we may witness a surge in COVID-19 cases.
We may report between 10,000 to 20,000 cases per day," she said in a video campaign urging the youth to join the "Covid Brigade" to halt the pandemic spread.
Noting that the death rate graph will start rising if the positive cases shoot up, the Minister said it should be stopped.
"We must also understand that the death toll will increase with the rise in the number of cases. So, we need to put a hold on the rise in cases. For that the people must cooperate.
They should strictly follow the health protocol of wearing masks, handwashing and social distancing in order to break the chain of virus from spreading," Shailaja said.
Meanwhile, India's COVID-19 caseload surpassed 24 lakh on Friday after 64,553 more people tested positive and the recoveries rose to over 17 lakh, the Health Ministry said.
(with inputs from agencies)