Private hospitals have also been asked to follow a checklist to activate isolation wards.
Even as India reported the first case of novel coronavirus (nCoV) on Thursday, eight of the 12 samples from Maharashtra sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) have tested negative for the virus.
The first case of nCoV was reported in a female student who recently returned from Wuhan. She has been kept in an isolation ward in Kerala.
In Pune, five persons have been kept under observation at Naidu hospital. While the reports of the first two persons, who had returned from China recently, tested negative on Thursday, reports of the remaining three persons also tested negative for nCoV, said Dr Ramchandra Hankare, Pune Municipal Corporation health chief.
But those under observation will be discharged only after the samples taken from them are tested a second time. “They will be discharged after an examination by doctors,” said Hankare, adding that samples for the second round of tests will also be sent to NIV.
Meanwhile, three persons under observation in a Mumbai hospital were discharged after their sample proved to be negative for nCoV after the second round of tests. A total of nine people are still under observation at hospitals across Maharashtra, with three in Mumbai, five in Pune and one in Nanded.
“The remaining reports will be sent on Friday,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer.
Earlier, of the total 28 passengers from Maharashtra who recently returned from China, 12 were found to have symptoms like cold, cough and fever. Six of them were kept under observation at Kasturba hospital in Mumbai, five at Naidu hospital in Pune and one at Nanded Government Medical College. After three of the six under observation in Mumbai were discharged, nine persons remain under observation in the three cities.
“We are getting in touch with other passengers who have returned from China by phone and this process will continue for 28 days,” added Awate. The Maharashtra health department has decided to activate isolation wards at each district hospital and government medical college. The administration is also focusing on inter-departmental coordination, said Awate.
State health officials are following the World Health Organisation’s guidelines to identify who can be termed as a person suspected to be infected with nCoV. Private hospitals have also been asked to follow a checklist to activate isolation wards.