Ten persons are under observation at hospitals in Mumbai, Pune and Nanded for possible exposure to novel coronavirus while there is no confirmed case of the infection in the state, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday. The patients whose blood test reports do not indicate virus infection would be discharged if a second test also comes out as negative, authorities said.
As many as 4,600 passengers have been screened at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai since January 19 after the outbreak of the virus was reported first in China's Wuhan city, the minister said in a statement.
A total of 27 persons are under observation in the state, he said.
As a precautionary measure, 10 of them have been quarantined -- six at Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai, three at Pune's Naidu Hospital and another at a hospital in Nanded, he said.
A 49-year-old man who returned from Wuhan on January 21 was admitted to Kasturba Hospital on Tuesday after he developed fever and cough, said Maharashtra State Disease Surveillance Officer Dr Pradeep Awte.
Blood samples of these ten hospitalised persons were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, and six of them tested negative while the reports of the remaining four individuals were awaited, he said.
Blood samples of three persons have been sent to the NIV for testing a second time and the report is awaited.
Health department officials are obtaining updates about the health of the remaining 17 persons (who are not admitted to hospitals) over phone, Tope said.
The Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Technical Committee of the state met in Mumbai and decided to seek, from the Airport of Authority of India, the list of passengers who returned to Mumbai from China since January 1.
Doctors will contact the passengers who are from Maharashtra over phone to know if they have symptoms such as cough and cold, an official statement said.
A helpeline -- 104 -- will be set up to address people's queries about coronavirus, it added.
The committee also decided that blood samples of patients who test negative for the virus should be sent to the NIV again for another round of testing; and a patient should be given discharge if he/she tests negative second time too.
The government has already appealed to those who have returned from China after January 1 to report to state-run hospitals if they are suffering from cough and mild fever.
Novel coronavirus (nCoV) belongs to the coronavirus family that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes.
It has emerged from a seafood and animal market in Wuhan city and is suspected to have spread as far as the United States.