Eleven people — seven in Kerala, two in Mumbai and one each in Bengaluru and Hyderabad — who are among thousands of passengers who returned from China in the recent days are under observation in hospitals to check for possible exposure to the deadly novel Coronavirus, central and state officials said on Friday.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed that of these 11 people, two, who were being monitored in a Mumbai hospital, and one each from Bengaluru and Hyderabad have tested negative.

One of the Mumbai patients has tested positive for Rhinovirus, a routine common cold virus, it said.

“ICMR-NIV Pune has informed that 4 samples (2 from Mumbai, 1each from B’luru & Hy’bad) have tested NEGATIVE for nCoV. One of Mumbai patients has tested positive for Rhinovirus, one of the routine common cold virus,” the ministry tweeted.

The two individuals, who have been admitted to an isolation ward at the Kasturba hospital, were among 1,789 passengers who underwent thermal screening at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport for coronavirus since January 19.

Meanwhile, Kerala government officials have said that another 73 people were being kept under medical surveillance at their homes in the state.

According to Kerala state health ministry officials in Thiruvananthapuram, seven people who had shown mild symptoms of fever, cough and sore throat are under watch in state-run hospitals in different districts in the state. Among them, two of them are in Kochi, while one each is in observation in the state capital, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Pathanamthitta.

The state government has advised those under home surveillance to remain at home for 28 days from the date of their departure from China.

According to a union health ministry official, no positive case has been detected in the country so far.

The official said a total of 20,844 passengers who travelled in 96 flights from China have been screened at the airports till January 24.

India on Tuesday expanded thermal screening of passengers arriving from China including Hong Kong to seven airports for preventing any entry of ‘Novel Corona Virus Disease (nCoV) in the country.

Following advisory from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the Ministry of Civil Aviation directed for all logistics support and arrangements to be made immediately with regard to screening of passengers arriving in India from China including Hong Kong at the identified airports i.e. Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin along with three airports at Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata identified earlier.

The government has also issued a travel advisory asking citizens travelling to and from China to follow certain precautionary measures.

Majority of the cases has been reported from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, where a seafood market that illegally sold wild animals has been identified as the epicentre of the outbreak.

The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus in China is a novel strain and not seen before.

The virus has spread rapidly leaving 41 dead in China with the number of confirmed cases leaping to 1300 by the end of Friday. At least 237 people out of the infected are critical.

The Coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

(With PTI inputs)