New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) Four persons, who returned from China and were kept under observation in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad following screening for the novel coronavirus infection, have tested negative, the Union Health ministry said on Friday.
It also said that no positive case has been detected in the country so far, adding a total of 20,844 passengers from 96 flights have been screened till January 24.
"ICMR-NIV Pune has informed that 4 samples (2 from Mumbai, 1each from B'luru & Hy'bad) have tested NEGATIVE for nCoV. One of Mumbai patients has tested positive for Rhinovirus, one of the routine common cold virus," the health ministry tweeted.
Of the four, two persons were kept under observation at a Mumbai hospital, while one person each was kept under watch in Hyderabad and Bengaluru for possible exposure to the respiratory virus which has infected a large number of people in China, a senior health ministry official said.
Also, on the basis of the details provided by the Indian Embassy in China, around 25 students who have returned to India recently from Wuhan are being closely monitored, the official said.
Their details have been shared with district-level officers and they are being monitored closely for any symptoms.
"Today, 4082 passengers were screened in 19 flights and so far a total of 20,844 passengers from 96 flights have been screened for novel coronavirus infection symptoms," the official said.
Novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus that has so far killed 25 people and affected 830 in China is a novel strain and not seen before.
It emerged from a seafood and animal market in China's Wuhan, and is suspected to have spread to as far as the US.
According to the World Health Organisation, the common symptoms of the nCoV strain include respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
The health ministry has asked states and union territories to review hospital preparedness in terms of isolation and ventilator management of critically ill patients, identify gaps and strengthen core capacities in the area of surveillance and laboratory support, an official statement said.
Moreso, health advisory and signages are now being displayed at 12 more airports in addition to the current seven.
Thermal screening is being done at the seven international airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin.
The civil aviation ministry has asked airlines to follow International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidelines for managing and notifying anybody reporting illness on flights originating from China and disembarking in India.
The ministry has instructed for in-flight announcements for India bound flights.
A travel advisory was issued on January 17 and put up on the ministry's website and also on the Twitter handle for wider circulation.
"Port and airport health organisations have been sensitised and thermal screening has been initiated at the international airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin airports," the statement said.
The airport health organisations have also put up signages at prominent locations informing the public about self-reporting of illness. Immigration officers manning the counters have been sensitised at these airports.
The ministry of health has written to the governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka to review and strengthen preparedness measures at designated airports for provision of isolation and critical care facilities, linkages with VRDL network laboratories and adherence to infection prevention and control guidelines.
Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has issued advisory to all states and union territories for surveillance to pick up any travel related case reported in the community and follow up contacts of suspect or confirmed cases.
National Institute of Virology, Pune is fully geared up to test samples of nCoV. Ten other laboratories under Indian Council of Medical Research's Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network are also equipped to test such samples, if a need arises, the ministry said.
Adequate stock of personal protection equipment is being maintained by Medical Stores Organization.
Rapid response teams of the states and UTs were trained in management of MERS-CoV outbreak (a similarly placed virus, reported from Middle East) in 2014.
More recently they were also trained (in Nov-Dec, 2019) on management of high risk pathogens in context of Ebola virus disease outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Ministry of External Affairs has disseminated travel advisories (in local languages) to Indian Embassies in China and adjoining countries for wider circulation and passenger information.
In view of significant population of Indian students in China, MEA is providing details of such students, the ministry said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has been asked to share details of travellers from China who have been issued e-visas since December 31, 2019. PTI PLB ZMN