The family is also distressed about social media posts claiming they participated in a wedding and attended church.

COVID-19 affected Kerala family says they didnt conceal details govt counters claim
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, March 09, 2020 - 14:54

On Sunday, Keralites saw a face of Health Minister KK Shailaja that they had never seen before. The usually calm and good tempered leader sounded exasperated and vexed. The minister said her anger and disappointment was due to a family from Ranni in Pathanamthitta district, who had failed to disclose their travel history to Italy. It’s not just that all three members of the family have tested positive for coronavirus – two of their neighbours, too, have contracted the disease.

A day after the minister called their actions a crime, the family has come out denying that they concealed their travel history to health officials intentionally.

A 55-year-old man, his 53-year-old wife and their 26-year-old son are currently in an isolation ward at the Pathanamthitta General Hospital. The son, speaking to The News Minute, said that they had no symptoms while travelling from Italy to Kochi via Doha.

Did not check in at health counter at airport

"We did not hide our travel history intentionally. Nobody asked us at the airports. We had no symptoms,” he said.

He also said that from the Kochi airport, they travelled with his sister’s family to Kottayam.

"Their four-year-old child was also in the car with us. If we had any clue that we were infected, we wouldn't have travelled with the child and put them at risk. We were not put through any screening, neither were any forms given to us,” he claimed.

The CIAL airport in Nedumbassery in Kochi has however questioned the passenger’s version. “There was no universal screening as on February 29, when this family arrived. Universal screening and a form at the airport was introduced only on March 3 following directions from the Union government. However, there were frequent in-flight announcements and display boards asking the passengers who were coming from affected countries to declare their travel details at the health desk,” an airport official told TNM.

The Kochi airport has health desks at both the domestic and international airports. Even at the domestic airport, officials stand at the gates and inform passengers to report if they have any symptoms or have travel history to coronavirus affected places. The reason why passengers are asked to give their details to the health desk is so that these details can be passed on to the government. The Kerala government has a system in place to ensure that panchayat members monitor such people for at least two weeks after their arrival.

Other airports in Chennai and Bengaluru also confirmed to TNM that they started giving forms to all international passengers only from March 3; until then individual airlines were distributing forms.

Hid details from doctor at private hospital

The government has further said that despite developing symptoms, the family still failed to reach out to authorities. Though they did go to a private hospital, they did not inform the doctor about their travel history. The son told TNM and many other media outlets that they had no symptoms, then or now.

“My mother and I consulted a private hospital in Pathanamthitta a few days after reaching home as she had high blood pressure. She had blood pressure related issues even when we were in Italy. We took tablets for it and returned home. Even from there we were not asked for our travel details and we did not know how we had to inform them as we had no other illness. My father stayed at home as he had no illness at all,” he said.

However, the Pathanamthitta District Collector PB Nooh and the District Medical officer of the district KJ Reena have countered this. The Collector told the media that the family had bought Dolo tablets, usually consumed for fever, from the Marthoma hospital in Pathanamthitta. The Collector says that if their neighbours had not fallen sick, the government would not have found this family.

“When the health officials first called them, after their relatives fell sick, they said they consulted Marthoma hospital as the mother had hypertension. Later, authorities came to know that they bought Dolo from the hospital. Then the medical officer directly contacted the family and enquired about them buying the tablet. That is when they admitted that one person has throat pain and another has fever,” the Collector said.

“Our only point is that if they had informed us soon after reaching the airport, we could have avoided the spread. Even after forcing them, they were not ready to travel in an ambulance, they came to the hospital in their own car,” the District Collector said.

The District Medical Officer in Pathanamthitta meanwhile told TNM that one person in the family has severe symptoms of COVID-19, another has a throat infection and a third person does not have many symptoms.

Fake news about the family

The family is distressed about social media posts claiming they participated in a wedding and attended church.

"We visited a few of our relatives. Other than that, we haven't participated in any event. We did not go to church. The wedding photo being circulated on social media was taken during my sister's wedding seven years ago,” the patient said.

He added that they decided to come to Kerala after a gap of four years to meet his grandparents who were ailing. “No coronavirus cases were reported from the district where we live in Italy,” he said.






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