As many as 10 people have died after being infected by the Nipah virus so far in Kerala, state Health Minister KK Shailaja said at a press conference in Kozhikode on Tuesday.
“Tests have confirmed 12 Nipah infections, out of which 10 have died,” she said. “Two infected patients are undergoing treatment at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. We had sent 18 samples for tests.”
The minister further said: “In all the cases, the virus has spread through man-to-man contact. Of the 10 dead, eight are from Kozhikode district and two are from neighbouring Malappuram district.”
Shailaja said that Lini Puthussery, a nurse who died on Monday, had also tested positive for the virus. However, Shailaja added that no new cases of the infection have been reported in the last 24 hours.
On Monday, she had said that the state government had controlled the outbreak effectively.
Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey said the Centre would issue an advisory only after such an input from doctors, ANI reported. “All our international airports already have a team of doctors present there,” he added. “We hope the virus will be contained soon. There is no need to panic.”
Nipah is a virus that can be transferred from animals to humans. It causes fever and cold-like symptoms in its patients that quickly advances to encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart. There is no vaccine or cure for Nipah infections at present.
Goa and Puducherry governments say precautions taken
Meanwhile, the Goa government asked people not to panic, as there was no threat of the virus in the state. “As of now, no agency has issued any alert for Goa, including the National Centre for Disease Control whose team is in Kerala assessing the ground-level situation,” Directorate of Health Services State Surveillance Officer Dr Utkarsh Betodkar told PTI. He added that the government had already contacted the Manipal Centre for Virus Research to assess the situation.
Betodkar also said that there was no screening of visitors from Kerala at this point. “Screening of the tourists or visitors can happen only when there are specific guidelines issued by the Centre. Right now, there are no such guidelines,” he said.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said all precautions have been taken to prevent an outbreak of the virus in the union territory, PTI reported. “Hand-bills are being distributed among the public to create awareness on the virus by listing the dos and don’ts for people to follow,” he said. Narayanasamy added that a separate ward had been set up at the government general hospital in Mahe for emergencies.