A Dubai-bound flight at Kerala’s Kochi airport was delayed after authorities found that a British passenger who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus had boarded it along with 18 of his travel companions, PTI reported. All 289 passengers were first offloaded just before takeoff, but later, the flight was allowed to depart after authorities detained the travel group.

The man had been in quarantine at a resort in Munnar hill station in Kerala as he was under observation for the infection. However, he allegedly managed to join the rest of his group to reach the Kochi airport without informing authorities.

Health officials tracked down the man after his test results came out to be positive and he was immediately offloaded. “Firstly, it was decided to offload all 19 passengers of his group,” an airport spokesperson said. “Now, it is decided to offload the remaining 270 passengers also and send them to hospital for further investigation.”

Devikulam Sub-Collector Prem Krishnan said that health officials were at the hotel till 10.30 pm and the group left after that. He added that the results came on Sunday and by then the patient had left the hotel.

The Union Health Ministry has confirmed 22 coronavirus cases in Kerala, the second highest after Maharashtra.