Pathnamthitta: A man under observation for suspected coronavirus infection at the isolation ward of the district hospital here fled, but was tracked and brought back within hours.
The man was among those who had interacted with the three-member family who returned from Italy and have tested positive for the virus.
Pathnamthitta district collector P B Nooh said one person, who was under observation at the general hospital here had escaped but was later tracked and brought back.
"If even a single person under observation goes out, it is a threat. This is a public hazard".
The one excercise which the health authorities have to undertake on Tuesday is to see how many people had come in contact with this person after he left the hospital.
There is need to isolate those people with whom he may have come into contact, the collector said "This is the time to behave in a very socially responsible manner".
With six positive cases being reported, the state government has already warned that stringent action would be taken against those flouting the directions of the health department.
Health Minister K K Shailaja has warned that those coming from COVID19 affected nations, should report to authorities on arrival in the state, failing which a case would be registered against them under the Public Health Act.
A 3-member family, which had come from Italy recently and had tested positive along with two of their relatives had not reported their arrival to the authorities, health officials said.
At least 733 people who had come in contact with them have been tracked, the collector said and have been placed under observation.
While 18 have been admitted to isolation wards in hospital the remaining are under home surveillance.
A two-year-old child is among those under obsevation at the isolation ward, health department sources said.
The tracking excercise would continue on Wednesday also.
Meanwhile, an awareness class was held for migrant workers at Pathnamthitta district this morning.
However, no directions have been issued to workers from other states to leave the state.
"We are planning to give extra care to migrant workers with labour officer visiting their colonies and as part of the awareness drive and speaking to them in a language they understand," he said.
A three-year-old boy, who arrived with his parents in Kochi from Italy, tested positive on Monday, a day after three people, also with travel history from the European nation, were declared positive for the virus along with two of their relatives.
The Health Minister has said surveillance system would be stregthened with the support of ASHA workers, civic authorities and ward members and resident associations.
Presently, 1,116 people are under surveillance in the state for the corona virus, 967 in home quarantine and 149 in isolation wards of hospitals.
Two 90-year-old relatives of the Pathnamthitta family, who tested positive, have been admitted to Kottayam medical college hospital and their samples have been sent for testing, she said.
"If they test positive for the virus, it would be highly risky", she had said.