Health officials in Bengaluru confirmed that 19 samples out of 44 total sent for testing returned negative for the coronavirus from National Institute of Virology. Furthermore, the samples of a family of five who were under isolation after having returned from a trip to China were not checked as they did meet the criteria to be tested. None of the family members had shown any symptoms of coronavirus.
“The family had been to China, but they did not go to Wuhan. Nor have they shown any symptoms, so their samples were rejected. They will remain under observation in home isolation where a team of experts will continue to monitor them,” stated Dr Deepak Ugra, nodal officer, coronavirus isolation ward at RGICD (Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest diseases).
A team of doctors from the Health and Family Welfare Department was sent to check the family for the virus on Thursday. However, the family refused to be checked by the team and would not open the door for them. A neighbour had informed authorities that the family had recently returned from China and had reportedly been screened at the airport earlier. Officials returned to see the family on Friday and convinced them to get examined.
Officials took the family to RGICD on Friday where they were subject to medical examination and their samples were taken for testing. However, since the family did not show any symptoms for coronavirus, the samples were not tested.
Health officials are currently prioritising testing of samples of patients showing symptoms of coronavirus.
Surveillance measures for individuals, who have been placed under home quarantine, have also been tightened, according to Dr Deepak.
As of Monday, 51 travellers from countries known to be affected by the virus have been identified. Of them, 46 have been placed under isolation at home, four have left India and one has been admitted to an isolation ward in a hospital.
Globally, the situation has intensified with over 16,000 cases of the virus reported in China, Taiwan and Macau. There have been at least 361 deaths in China alone and 1 death in the Philippines. India has now confirmed three positive cases from the state of Kerala. Three students who had been studying in Wuhan and had recently returned to India.
Blood and sputum samples of individuals suspected to have had contact with the virus are sent to a lab either at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) or to a branch of NIV Pune, which is in the same vicinity as the chest diseases hospital. These are the only two which have been authorised by the Karnataka state government for testing samples.
Officials are urging precautionary measures to be taken and advising anyone feeling unwell to stay at home and isolate themselves for at least 14 days. Basic personal hygiene measures such as frequent handwashing with soap and using an alcohol-based sanitizer are some recommended advisories from the health department.