As many as 289 passengers on board a Dubai-bound flight were offloaded at Kochi airport on Sunday, minutes before take-off after a United Kingdom-based tourist tested positive for coronavirus.

The tourist was quarantined at a Munnar hotel after he showed flu-like symptoms. He was holidaying with 19 others and was lodged in the hill resort town of Munnar in Kerala. The passenger went to the airport with the group, without informing the authorities there.

However, as soon as his test results came back, the concerned authorities tracked him down and found that he was at Kochi airport and traveling by an Emirates flight to Dubai.

The passengers offloaded from the flight also include the tourist’s wife and 17 others who belonged to the group.

Both the UK tourist and his wife have now been placed under isolation at Kalamassery Medical College in Ernakulam district. The others in the group will be kept under quarantine.

Reports say that the results of his coronavirus test came back on Saturday night, following which medical officials visited the resort to take him to a government hospital for isolation. However, much to their surprise, he had already left for Kochi airport.

However, district officials in Idukki swiftly communicated the message to the Kochi airport authorities, and at around 8:45 am on Sunday, the airplane carrying the passengers was offloaded.

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 stands at 20 in Kerala so far.

In India, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 107, with two deaths till now. The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare under the central government has launched a helpline number: +91-11-23978046 for coronavirus-related inquiry and support. There are also separate helpline numbers for the different states and union territories.

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