The Maharashtra government is mulling to set up a coronavirus testing facility at Kasturba Hospital here to reduce the burden on Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) which is currently handling such samples from across the country, an official said on Tuesday. An additional testing facility at the civic-run hospital here will help in getting faster results, the senior state health official said.
"The plan is being discussed to share some load of NIV. The institute is getting swab samples from across the country for testing of novel coronavirus infection. If a similar testing facility is set up in Mumbai, it will minimise the waiting period," she said.
More and more samples are being received for testing at NIV, hence it is better to set up an additional examination facility in Mumbai at the earliest, the official said. "Health officials have communicated their views to higher authorities about setting up a coronavirus testing facility in Mumbai. We will come to know about it in the coming days," she added.
As of now, six patients have been kept in observation wards at various hospitals in the state. Of these, four are in Pune, and one each in Mumbai and Sangli district, another official said on Monday.
Since January 18, state health officials have screened 8,878 passengers at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport for the coronavirus infection, he said. No confirmed case of the deadly virus, which has killed 425 people in China till now, has been detected yet in Maharashtra.
The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus that has killed people in China is a novel strain and not seen before. Common symptoms of the novel coronavirus strain include respiratory problems like cough, shortness of breath and fever, according to the World Health Organisation. The WHO has declared the coronavirus epidemic as a global health emergency.
The virus - which first emerged in Wuhan city in China's central Hubei province - has spread to 25 countries, including India (three confirmed cases have been reported from Kerala), the US and the UK.