A 49-year-old Mumbai resident who visited Wuhan in China on a business trip, and a 32-year-old scientist from Nanded, who returned from the country after four-and-half-months, were admitted to separate isolation facilities Monday in the state for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus (nCoV).
While his basic test reports are normal, Kasturba hospital doctors have sent samples of the Mumbai resident to National Institute of Virology, Pune, for confirmation on the suspected virus.
Hospital sources said the man, a resident of Juhu who travelled to China between January 14 and 20, reportedly had fever for four days, following which, his parents approached the Kasturba hospital. He also suffered from cough and chills. Doctors have also detected a patch in his chest.
The Nanded resident, meanwhile, has been admitted to a 10-bedded isolation ward in Nanded’s Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government hospital since Monday. The 32-year-old man lived in China for four-and-half-months, where he worked as a food scientist. He returned via Bangkok to Mumbai on January 24. “After returning he suffered cough and got suspicious. He reported to the district authority yesterday (Monday),” a district health official said. With two new suspected cases, eight persons — five in Mumbai, two in Pune and one in Nanded — are under quarantine facility across Maharashtra. Of them, four persons who had tested negative for the infection are slated to be discharged soon.
“We are only waiting for a second confirmatory test. If it comes negative, they will be immediately discharged,” said state epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate. At least three of them, doctors said, will be discharged by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, five persons with suspected nCoV admitted at Kasturba hospital have expressed issues with the quality of food served at the hospital. According to a staffer, a 65-year-old UK national, who tested negative for coronavirus and awaits a second confirmatory test, has been ordering his meals from a hotel, which is being delivered outside the ward. “We also allow family members to bring food. But they are not allowed to go inside the ward,” the staffer said.
In Mumbai, Kasturba hospital remains the government-designated quarantine facility. Its ward number 30, with 10 beds, serves as an isolation unit with glass walls separating each cubicle. Each suspected case here is observed for 28 days, double the incubation period of the virus, although they may not be hospitalised for the entire period.
“We conduct the first test, if it comes negative, we wait for two-three days and conduct a second confirmatory test. If both tests are negative we will discharge the patient,” a doctor from Kasturba hospital said.
State planning to rope in private hospitals
With the Ministry of External Affairs’ formal request to China to facilitate evacuation of Indians residing in Wuhan, the Maharashtra government is now planning to rope in private hospitals to handle a large number of passengers.
“We will write to municipal corporations in Mumbai and Pune to consult private hospitals that are willing to open isolation facilities,” said Dr Archana Patil, from Directorate of Health Services. State officials will hold a video-conference with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to prepare for quarantining more cases.
Till Monday, 3,997 passengers flying from China were screened at Mumbai airport for symptoms of fever, cough, and cold. The NIV, meanwhile, has found 20 samples negative for the virus so far.
An Air India official said, “We have a Boeing 747 with a capacity of over 300 passengers on standby at airport for several days for this. Once we get clearance from the Indian government, a special flight will be arranged from Wuhan. The other flights from Shanghai are operating as per schedule.”
Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani also said, “It is not decided when, but soon Air India flight will operate from Wuhan to bring Indians.” Once evacuated, these passengers will be kept under isolation facility for 14 days to observe for suspected symptoms.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines