Nine who returned from China under watch for coronavirus

None of them has been proven positive so far, but health officials remain on their toes

Kochi/Mumbai: Nine people nationwide are being watched for symptoms of coronavirus, the deadly affliction emanating from Wuhan city in China. Seven of them are in Kerala, two in Mumbai and one in Hyderabad.

They are under observation in hospitals to check for possible exposure to the deadly virus, central and state officials said on Friday.

Officials in Kerala said another 73 were being kept under medical surveillance at home.

According to Kerala health officials in Thiruvananthapuram, seven people with mild symptoms of fever, cough and sore throat are under watch in state-run hospitals in different districts of the state. Two are in the state capital and one each in Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Pathanamthitta.

The state government has advised those under home surveillance to remain at home for 28 days from the date of their departure from China.

The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus in China is a novel strain and not seen before. It has killed 26 people so far, and has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

According to a Union Health Ministry official, two persons who returned from China have been kept under observation at a Mumbai hospital while one person has been placed under watch at a hospital in Hyderabad.

However, no positive case has been detected in the country so far, he said.

The official said a total of 20,844 passengers who travelled in 96 flights from China have been screened at airports till January 24.

Also, on the basis of the details provided by the Indian Embassy in China, around 25 students who have returned to India recently from Wuhan are being closely monitored, the official said.

Their details have been shared with district-level officers and they are being monitored closely for any symptoms.

Two people who returned to Mumbai from China have been kept in an isolation ward at Kasturba Hospital, and their blood samples collected to check for the new strain of coronavirus, officials said in Mumbai.

As many as 1,789 passengers underwent thermal screening at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai for the coronavirus since January 19 and two of them were admitted to civic-run Kasturba Hospital in the city as a precaution, they said.

Till now, no cases of coronavirus infection have been detected during screening, a health department official said.

"No passenger with history of visit to Wuhan city of China in the last 14 days has ben found positive (for the virus) during thermal scanning," he said.

"The isolation ward has been created for diagnosis and treatment of persons suspected to have the virus infection," said Dr Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer of the BMC.

Keskar said the two persons under observation at the hospital have mild cough and exhibited cold-related symptoms.

Doctors at the airport have been asked to send travellers returning from China to the isolation ward if they show any symptoms of the novel coronavirus, she said.

"All private doctors in the city have been asked to alert us if they observe symptoms of coronavirus in any person who has returned from China," she added.

According to Kasturba Hospital sources, they have received detailed instructions from the Maharashtra government about how to deal with a coronavirus infection.

Apart from Kasturba Hospital, quarantine facilities have also been provided at Naidu Hospital in Pune, the officials said.

During the screening at the Mumbai airport, six passengers -- three from Pune and another three from Mumbai -- underwent further medical examination, he said.

"Four of them were found to be perfectly alright. As a precaution, two others who were suffering from a minor cold and cough have been admitted to the Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai and kept under monitoring," he said.

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