Two 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 January 24.
As many as 1,789 passengers underwent thermal screening at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport for the contagion since January 19 and two of them, who had travelled to China, were admitted to the 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 was found positive (for the virus) during thermal scanning,” he said.
Coronavirus cases were first reported from Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province. In the wake of the coronavirus 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 viral infection,” said Dr. Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer of the BMC.
Dr. Keskar said the two persons under observation at the hospital have mild cough and exhibited cold-related symptoms. Doctors at the Mumbai international 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 sources in the Kasturba Hospital, they have received detailed instructions from the Maharashtra government about how to deal with a coronavirus infection. Apart from the hopital, quarantine facilities have also been provided at Naidu Hospital in Pune, the officials added.
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.
Measures in place
Dr. Pradeep Awate, surveillance officer with the State Health Department, said cases of coronavirus infection have been detected mainly in China, and a few cases have been found in other countries including South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the United States.
During screening at the Mumbai airport, six passengers — three each from Mumbai and Pune — 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,” Dr. Awate said.
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, he added. He appealed people not to panic as no case of coronavirus infection has been found in the country yet.