Covid-19 positive passenger sneaks onto Emirates flight

Maciej Matlak

A British holidaymaker, who had tested positive for coronavirus Covid-19, left quarantine and boarded Emirates Boeing 777 in India, but was asked to disembark prior to takeoff on March 15, 2020. 

The British tourist was diagnosed with coronavirus while on holiday in India. Despite being placed under quarantine, the passenger traveled to Kochi International airport (COK) in hopes of catching an Emirates flight to Dubai (UAE), local authorities told the National

The passenger, together with a group of 19 people, boarded Emirates Flight EK531, initially due to carry 288 people. As the information that the person had tested positive for coronavirus Covid-19 became known to local health and immigration officials, he was asked to disembark the plane. 

Emirates Flight EK531 eventually took off from Kochi (also known as Cochin) with a 3 hours and 20 minutes delay, data shows. The wide-body plane landed at the destination in Dubai International Airport (DXB) at 14:48. 

“Emirates can confirm that the local authorities in Kerala prevented a group of 19 passengers from boarding our flight EK531 Kochi-Dubai earlier today,” Emirates representative told the publication. 

In event of finding out that Emirates aircraft have transported a passenger with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 case, the airline would implement a deep cleaning and disinfection process that takes between six to eight hours to complete, as outlined in the carrier’s statement dated March 8, 2020. The process includes the defogging of cabin interiors, misting with disinfectant across all soft furnishings, replacing seat covers and cushions in the affected area as well as replacing the aircraft’s HEPA cabin air filters. 

Following the first Coronavirus-related death in India on March 12, the country has imposed several travel restrictions, especially for foreign nationals. As of March 14, the country has revoked all visas, except for those issued to diplomats, aircrews, officials, UN/International Organizations and employment or project visas. Passengers arriving in India are required to fill the self-declaration form and  undergo a medical screening. The country also quarantines for no less than 14 days passengers arriving from China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain, and South Korea, among other measures. 

As of March 15, 2020, the World Health Organization estimated there were 153,517 confirmed Covid-19 cases globally. India reported 107 coronavirus cases and two deaths. Reportedly,17 foreigners tested positive in the country.


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