The Union Health Ministry said 20,844 passengers have been medically screened at Indian airports till Friday for symptoms of coronavirus infection that has killed 26 people in China so far. The ministry said 4,082 passengers were screened in 19 flights on Friday itself.

No cases have been detected in India yet through these screening efforts. However, three persons have been put under observation, the ministry said.

Earlier in the day, a news report had said that two people who recently returned to Mumbai from China were under medical observation for possible infection. The third person is being monitored in Hyderabad, PTI reported. Around 25 students who have returned to India recently from Wuhan are also being closely monitored.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation created an isolation ward at the Kasturba hospital in Chinchpokli in South Mumbai. Doctors at the Mumbai airport have been asked to send travellers returning from China to the isolation ward if they show any symptoms of the coronavirus. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi have also set up isolation wards.

In Kerala, seven persons are being monitored in hospitals and 73 are under surveillance at their homes, PTI reported.

The government has also extended a travel advisory to 12 more airports in addition to the current seven.

Toll rises to 26

Meanwhile, China’s National Health Commission said the toll rose to 26 and there were 830 confirmed cases, Reuters reported. The disease has spread to six countries till now – Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Singapore and Vietnam.

The Indian Embassy in Beijing has cancelled a reception that was supposed to be held on Sunday to celebrate Republic Day.

China has stepped up measures to contain the virus. At least 10 cities are under lockdown in China and most major cities have banned public gatherings over the Lunar New Year holiday. The outbreak has stoked fears of a pandemic similar to the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that also started in China and killed nearly 800 people.

In the United States, a woman in her sixties in Chicago was confirmed on Friday as the second patient infected with the virus. Fifty suspected cases are under investigation. The woman is said to be in a stable condition.