Thiruvananthapuram: Seven people in Kerala have been kept under close observation after they returned from China and showed mild symptoms of the deadly coronavirus that has killed 41 people in China and infected nearly 1,300. Sources said four others -- two in Mumbai, one each in Bengaluru and Hyderabad are also under observation.
However, the Union Health Ministry has categorically stated that the 11 people kept in isolation have tested negative.
No positive case has been detected in the country so far, reported the Ministry.
"Seven people (in Kerala) who have extremely mild symptoms were kept under observation in isolation wards on Friday, primarily as a precautionary measure, since they returned from China," said Dr Amar Fettle, Kerala's officer-in-charge for communication on coronavirus.
Among the seven, two are in Kochi and three are in Thrissur, Kozhikode and Pathanamthitta respectively.
"At the airports, if passengers returning from China show no symptoms, their names are taken and forwarded to district medical officials. They are advised voluntary self-isolation at their homes for a few weeks and are being tracked for their health updates," Dr Fettle said.
80 people were kept under surveillance in Kerala, of which 73 showed no symptoms. Seven of them showed mild symptoms of fever and cough. "One of these seven showed no symptoms, but was largely very anxious, so we have admitted that passenger and are giving counselling," an official said.
The Kerala Health Minister said samples of two people kept under observation have been sent for tests.
Kerala, which fought the deadly Nipah virus recently, is leaving nothing to chance this time.
More than 20,000 passengers returning to India from mainland China and Hong Kong have undergone thermal screenings at airports.
The Kerala government has also opened a helpline number 0471-2552056 for people with concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
On a request from Kerala, India has asked China to permit over 250 Indian students stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of the new SARS-like virus, to leave the city, sources said on Saturday. Many of them are from Kerala.
About 700 Indian students, mostly medical students, are believed to be studying in different universities in Wuhan and its surrounding areas. Authorities have prevented anyone from leaving Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the heart of the viral outbreak.
Coronavirus cases were first reported from Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province. Wuhan and 13 other cities in the province have been locked down in an unprecedented quarantine effort aimed at containing the deadly virus.
The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.