All 289 people on board Dubai-bound flight from Kochi were asked to deplane right before take-off after it became known that a passenger tested positive for the highly contagious coronavirus, said news agency PTI quoting airport officials.
The passenger, who is a UK national, belonged to a group of 19 holidaying in the hill resort town of Munnar in Kerala and was under surveillance, a Cochin International Airport Limited spokesman said.
He joined the group to reach the Kochi airport without informing authorities in Munnar, said the spokesman.
When the test result came, the authorities came to know that he was at the Kochi airport and travelling by an Emirates flight.
Though the rate of fatality is very low in case of coronavirus, it is very infectious. The virus starts from the upper respiratory system, and from the back of the throat moves to lower respiratory system like lungs, and finally to blood. Once inside the body, the virus uses a spike-like protein to bind with a receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) found on the respiratory cells, entering it and replicating to spread the infection within.
As the virus keeps multiplying, it causes inflammation in the alveoli or lung sacs filling them fluid and pus causing pneumonia. The inflamed lungs make it difficult for the person to breathe leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome between day eight and day 15 of the onset of symptoms.
From imported cases to local transmission, Kerala had pressed the emergency button announcing a series of measures to check the spread of the virus. The state health department has called for strict community surveillance, scaling up of contact tracing and tapping local bodies to check the spread of the deadly disease.
Two important shrines, Guruvayoor and Sabarimala, have scaled down their daily grind. The Nair Service Society has also asked people to skip big gatherings. Cinema halls have also announced closure and film units also suspended their shooting. Hotels and resorts have been asked not to entertain foreign guests till further notice.
The state had reported India’s first three cases of coronavirus in January this year. They have now recovered fully.
The coronavirus outbreak has the government working on a war-footing to minimise the spread of the disease.
Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said the government has issued an advisory asking civil hospitals and medical colleges to set up isolation wards.
“We are trying our best to contain the spread of coronavirus which has spread to 12 states,” said the minister.