Coronavirus: Three under watch in Mumbai; special ward set up

Mumbai: Three persons who returned from China have been kept under observation at a Mumbai hospital for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus which has infected a large number of people in the neighbouring country, officials said on Friday.

Till now, no cases of coronavirus infection have been detected during screening of passengers at the Mumbai airport, a health department official said.

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

As many as 1,789 passengers underwent thermal screening at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport here for the coronavirus since January 19.

Two of them, who had traveled to China, were admitted to civic- run Kasturba Hospital in the city as a precaution.

Another passenger, who had returned from Hong Kong, was admitted to the hospital for medical examination on Friday, additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said.

The passenger belongs to neighbouring Thane district, he added.

The two persons admitted to the hospital earlier are from Nallasopara in neighbouring Palghar district. Their blood samples had been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and reports were expected on Saturday, Kakani said.

Coronavirus cases were first reported from Wuhan, the capital of central Chinas Hubei province.

In the wake of the outbreak in China, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has created an isolation ward at the Kasturba hospital.

"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.

She said the persons under observation at the hospital had mild cough and exhibited cold-related symptoms.

Doctors at the Mumbai international airport have been asked to send travelers 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 the 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, officials said.

The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus that has killed people in China is a novel strain and was not seen before.

Common symptoms of the infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, according to the World Health Organisation.

Dr Pradeep Awate, surveillance officer with the state health department, said cases of coronavirus infection have been detected mainly in China, and few cases have been found in other countries including South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the United States.

Authorities would be following up with every passenger who has returned from any of the countries where outbreak of coronavirus has been reported for the next 28 days to check if she or he has developed symptoms of the infection, Dr Awate added.

He appealed people not to panic as no case of coronavirus infection has been found in the country yet.

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