All 289 passangers of a Dubai-bound flight were offloaded at the Cochin International Airport in Kerala after a UK national tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday.
The patient arrived in Kerala on March 2 and was diagnosed with COVID-19 after he developed high fever while he was at the hill station of Munnar, about 100 km from Kochi. He was kept in quarantine at the Tea Estate Hotel.
He, along with his group of 19 tourists were also asked to remain in isolation. However, the entire group broke all the protocols and headed for the Cochin airport on Sunday.
They went through the immigration at the airport and boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai at 8:30 am. After the tests reports came, the authorities came to know that he was at the Kochi airport. Firstly, it was decided to offload all 19 passengers of his group, he said.
"Now, it is decided to offload the remaining 270 pax also and send them to hospital for further investigation", the spokesman said.
They all have been moved to the hospitals.
Local legislator P.T. Thomas expressed dismay on what has happened and the local authorities at Idukki and Kochi are now probing on how this goof up occurred.
Soon after the incident, Minister MM Mani chaired a high-level meeting along with doctors and others to chalk out the next course of action as the tourist was in Kerala since March 2 and had travelled to Thrissur and other places.
Authorities are now trying to trace the route map of the patient in Kerala.
The Tea Estate Hotel has been shut and all the staff have been asked to observe quarantine and would be tested for COVID-19.
An enquiry has been ordered on how the tourist managed to escape from Munnar. Sources said a travel agent coordinated the escape.
Strict action will be taken against the Hotel and the agent, Idduki collector told the media.
Meanwhile, two persons have died due to the coronavirus pandemic, while 107 persons have been tested positive in the country.
However, worldwide, the total number of people who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus pandemic has gone up to 5,839 and the number of people to test positive for the deadly virus is 156,791 at the moment.
(With inputs from Shankar Raj and Agencies)