Pathanamthitta: One of the three fresh coronavirus infected people in Kerala has claimed they had informed Kochi airport authorities about their travel from Italy and no directive was given to them for screening.
The government, however, reiterated its stand that the trio did not follow the protocol for the people who come from nations hit by COVID-19, including Italy, on their arrival at the international airport in Kochi on February 29.
The 24-year old patient told local media that they would have undergone medical examinations had they been informed about it by any official at the airport.
“They (the officials) did not give us any directive for medical examinations even after they were informed that we are coming from Italy,” he told local media here. “We came from Italy to meet my aged grand father and grand mother. Had we come to know that we were infected with the coronavirus, we would not have met them,” he was quoted as having said.
The man and his parents who returned from Italy via Doha have been admitted to the isolation ward of the government general hospital here after they tested positive for coronavirus along with two of their close relatives staying in their home at Rani in Pathnamthitta district.
State Health Minister K K Shailaja had on Sunday said the three — a couple in their 50s and their son — had taken two connecting flights from Venice in Italy but did not report their foreign travel to officials on arrival at the airport in Kochi.
“The Italy-returned family hid their travel details from the health authorities. Such practices have to seen as a crime. Those who come from countries like Iran, Italy, South Korea and China should report to the health department immediately,” she had said.
The government has warned that anyone hiding information about foreign travel would be prosecuted.
Rejecting the claim of the patient, Pathanamthitta District Collector P B Nooh on Monday said China and Italy are the most affected countries by the virus and all knew about this. “Had they just intimated the health department or district administration at the right time that they were coming from Italy, we would have been able to avoid this much spread of the infection or this kind of a serious situation,” he told reporters here.
He maintained the three even were hesitant to travel in the ambulance after being detected with the symptoms of coronavirus.
Ernakulam District Collector S Suhas also dismissed the claim that they were not directed to subject themselves to thermal screening at the Cochin International Airport, saying protocol and all rules were being followed there. “In case if there is any lapse, it has to be on the part of the other (patients) side,” he told reporters in Kochi.
Shocked over the official report that the three infected people had evaded health screening, the Ernakulam district administration on Sunday had taken stock of the arrangements at the airport.
A statement from the CIAL had said as the universal screening (for all in-bound international passengers) was started on March 3, earlier there were inflight announcements and intimation at immigration counters for the passengers who were coming from non-pandemic countries like Italy. “However, the (three) Italy-returnees failed to report their travel details before the officials at the airport,” it had said.
There were 182 passengers on the Doha-Kochi flight. The administration has appealed to all the co-passengers of the three and people present at the airport area when the flight carrying them landed here to report to the health officials immediately.
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