Coronavirus | How Kerala managed to halt a take-off to isolate COVID-19 positive tourist

Swift action ensured tourist was isolated, others evacuated

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:51 pm IST

Published - March 16, 2020 01:20 am IST - KOCHI

File photo of the Cochin International Airport in Kochi, Kerala

File photo of the Cochin International Airport in Kochi, Kerala

For the district administration, it was a race against time on Sunday to stop the Emirates flight bound for Dubai, which was to carry a UK national, who tested positive for COVID-19 .

According to the district administration, the news of the British national being at the Cochin International Airport was received by District Collector S. Suhas only 15 minutes before the flight was to take off. Swift action followed to ensure that the tourist was isolated and others at risk evacuated.

By the time instructions were issued to hold the flight, all the crew had boarded the plane, but the race was won in time to ensure that a crisis-like situation was avoided.


The Idukki district administration informed the collector here by 8.45 a.m. that the tourist, who was under surveillance in Munnar, had reached the Kochi airport. He was bound for Dubai by the flight scheduled to take off at 9 a.m. The Ernakulam District Collector then initiated steps to ensure that the flight did not take off. It was a rare occasion and an unprecedented step for the district administration.

Instructions were issued initially to evacuate all the 270 passengers on board the flight and to subject them to preliminary check. . They were evacuated.

The tourist and his wife were directly escorted to an ambulance ready at the airport and taken to the isolation ward of the Ernakulam Government Medical College Hospital. Minister for Agriculture V.S. Sunilkumar arrived at the airport to attend to the situation and consultation was held with the Chief Minister and Health Minister before the other travellers were allowed to fly by 12.47 p.m.

Airport disinfected

The airport administration then had the task of identifying those who had interacted with the UK tourist. Those who were identified have been shifted to their residences for observation. The aerobridge and other places in the airport area were disinfected immediately and the terminal was ready to receive other travellers by 3 p.m., the communication added.


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