Kochi: With three passengers, who had recently landed at the Cochin International Airport (CIAL) from Italy, testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) infection along with two of their relatives, the Ernakulam district administration has decided to enforce strict vigil in the region.

District collector S Suhas convened an emergency meeting with officials of the airport and the health department on Sunday soon after health minister KK Shailaja confirmed that the five Pathanamthitta natives have tested positive for coronavirus.

The airport authorities have decided to enforce more precautionary measures including disinfection.

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Apart from the procedures like universal screening and facilitating all pax to fill forms about their travel/contact details, the airport on Sunday decided to implement the following procedures with immediate effect:

1. The flights arriving from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore will be given dedicated parking bay and dedicated aerobridge (parking bay 19 and 20, aerobridge 1 and 2).

2. The passengers arriving from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore will be given dedicated health screen counters, immigration counters, hand baggage screening X-ray and registered baggage belts. They need to be segregated from the other international passengers.

3. After the last passenger arrival of these flights , disinfection process will be carried out by CIAL Pest Management Team as per the direction of APHO inside the Aero Bridge and later in the arrival areas (arrival health and immigration areas, customs areas, X-ray, baggage trolleys, wash rooms, etc).

The collector has also instructed the employees as well as the public who had been at the airport on February 29 morning to contact the health department if they develop any symptoms of the disease. Those with symptoms can contact doctors at the Disha number – 1056.

Meanwhile, fourteen individuals, who were in close proximity with the three Italy-returnees tested positive for COVID-19 in Kerala, were shifted to isolation wards on Sunday. 

Ranni MLA Raju Abraham reacted on the coronavirus cases and had earlier said, “There were several people, who returned from Italy, but did not undergo medical checks. A high-level meeting convened decided to stop any public gatherings in the district for one week. The officials are yet to take a final decision regarding schools remaining open. A decision in this regard will be taken soon.”

Later in the day, Kerala government asked all schools and colleges in Pathanamthitta district to shut down for 3 days following the infection.