Chandigarh: Two men from Punjab who returned this week from coronavirus-hit Italy were diagnosed positive for coronavirus in preliminary tests and have been hospitalised in an Amritsar hospital, state Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said here on Saturday.

Doctors at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, where the two are admitted, said the patients were responding to treatment and their health was improving. The suspected patients hail from Hoshiarpur city.

"Preliminary tests from their swabs sent to AIIMS in Delhi tested positive. Now, their swab samples have been sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune for further tests, the results of which will be out by late Saturday evening or Sunday morning," the Minister told the media.

He said that since a large number of people from Punjab are settled in Italy, the state government was taking extra cautious about their well-being.

Sidhu said that both were lodged in the isolation ward after they showed symptoms of the disease on arrival at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport at Rajasansi in Amritsar from New Delhi on March 3.

The Minister said that as a precaution a flu centre has been opened in Rajpura town to scan again all travellers coming from abroad and heading to Punjab.

"In case of any suspected patient, he/she will be immediately hospitalised," Sidhu said.

As per the state Cabinet decision, all state hospitals are being directed to take a suspected patient's history of travel to any country or area from where spread of disease is being reported, and also the history of coming in contact with suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, cases of respiratory tract infections or cases of symptoms similar to coronavirus.

A total of 5,814 people with travel history to affected countries were screened by the state Health Department. Nine persons showed symptoms of the virus as of Friday and their samples sent to AIIMS in New Delhi.

The Minister said that the government was keeping a close watch on the situation at the state and district levels to prevent any outbreak.