The three passengers had landed in Thiruvananthapuram from Abu Dhabi on May 16.

3 NRIs booked for travelling to Kerala without disclosing they had COVID-19Image for representation only
news Coronavirus Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 13:12

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has voiced concerns over patients who have COVID-19 being permitted to fly in from abroad to the state.

The issue was raised after the Kollam police registered cases against three COVID-19 patients who landed in Thiruvananthapuram from Abu Dhabi on May 16,and failed to disclose their health status to authorities.

“Despite being aware that they had the disease, the three persons flew into Thiruvananthapuram and did not disclose their health status to health authorities,” Pinarayi said in his press meet on Monday.

An official from the Kollam District Medical Office (Health) told TNM, “The three of them were tested after health authorities overheard their conversations in the van which carried passengers to quarantine centres. Their conversations revealed that they had COVID-19.”

In total, five passengers who flew in from Abu Dhabi to Thiruvananthapuram on May 16 tested positive for the virus in Kerala. This included the three patients from Kollam.

“They tested positive for the virus back in Abu Dhabi. However they had managed to board the flight and land in Thiruvananthapuram. Since most of the patients are asymptomatic they may have been overlooked. They had even boarded the bus which took passengers to their quarantine centres and it is in the bus that they were identified as suspected patients due to the conversation,” a nodal health officer in Kollam district told TNM.

The patients, who are Kollam natives, were tested at the Paripally Medical College Hospital on May 17 while they were being taken to the quarantine centre in Kottarakkara. They have been moved to isolation wards in the hospital after their reports returned positive and have also been booked under sections of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Meanwhile, another patient who landed in Ernakulam via ship from Maldives on May 16 and reached Thiruvananthapuram on May 17, was directly admitted to the General Hospital after the person complained of a headache. His reports also returned positive for the virus.

“The government of India is not updated about the COVID-19 screening protocol adopted by the government of UAE regarding passengers who are allowed to fly out,” Jose D’Cruz told TNM.

Pinarayi also added that the issue was a serious matter as far as the state government was concerned. “The fact that they were allowed to board the flight itself is a serious matter according to the state. The state has taken it up with the Centre and the Centre has to take it up with other countries,” he added.

According to Government of India’s guidelines, passengers flying in from abroad have to undergo a mandatory 14-day institutional quarantine at government quarantine centres.

“After these six persons tested positive, we have tested at least 63 persons in the flight and have picked people who were in quarantine centres as well as observing home quarantine in Thiruvananthapuram,” Jose added.  

Kerala will see an influx of passengers flying in from abroad in the coming days. These people will be brought back home as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, the country’s repatriation mission to bring back stranded nationals in foreign countries.

Till June 2, 2020, Kerala is expected to see 6,530 persons landing in the state from 20 different countries.  

“We have been informed that 38 flights carrying Indian nationals will enter the state from now until June 2,” Pinarayi said.

Eight flights from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), six from Oman, four from Saudi Arabia, three from Qatar and two from Kuwait and one flight each from Bahrain, Philippines, Malaysia UK, USA, Australia, France, Indonesia, Armenia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Ireland, Italy, Russian and Singapore will land in the state in the coming days.  

Kerala has converted hotels, lodges, resorts etc into quarantine centres to house these nationals who are landing from other countries. 

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