Five more persons admitted to RML hospital for possible exposure to novel coronavirus

New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) Five more persons -- four men and one woman -- have been admitted to the Centre-run RML hospital for a possible exposure to novel coronavirus which has killed 170 people in China and is spreading worldwide.

India reported its first case of novel Coronavirus in Kerala on Thursday and the patient has been kept in an isolation ward, the Union health ministry said.

A female medical student of a university in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, has tested positive for the virus. She is stable and is being monitored closely, it said.

The government has stepped up its efforts to detect and prevent the spread of the virus that has killed at least 170 people and infected more that 7,700 in China and has spread to at least 17 countries already.

The government will evacuate Indians on Friday from Wuhan city.

All five persons self-reported to the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, designated to deal with such cases, with respiratory problems and fever, hospital sources said.

One of them came Wednesday night while the remaining four self-reported to the facility on Thursday, they said, adding they are being observed at the isolation ward of hospital.

Their samples have been sent for testing.

The three men kept who were admitted at the isolation ward of the RML hospital on Monday have tested negative, a Health ministry official said on Thursday.

'Their samples were sent for testing to NIV Pune and they have tested negative,' the official said.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Thursday reviewed the country's preparedness with the concerned ministries -- health and family welfare, external affairs, defence, home affairs, civil aviation, information and broadcasting, labour and employment, and shipping -- to tackle the spread of the virus, an official release said.

He also did a video conference with the chief secretaries of the states and UTs, it added.

During these meetings, it was decided that all those who have come from China after 15 January will be tested for the exposure to the virus and also the lab facilities will be augmented.

While six more labs will start functioning from Thursday, including one in AIIMS in Delhi, six more labs will start function by Friday, the release said.

Apart from putting measures in place to battle the spread at home, the government is also getting ready to evacuate its nationals on Friday from China, which continued to scramble to contain the spread of the deadly virus.  Indian embassy in Beijing in a note circulated through social media on Thursday said that preparations are on to evacuate Indians from the virus-hit region.

Authorities have been screening patients at 21 airports, ports and borders for possible coronavirus infection and the health ministry has urged people to report themselves if they show symptoms of coronavirus such as cold and respiratory distress on the 24x7 helpline (011-23978046).

The ministry has asked people to refrain from travelling to China and the states bordering Nepal -- Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim -- have stepped up vigil. PTI PLB AQS