The Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday that Nipah virus had infected 18 people and killed 11 of them in Kerala. The ministry said that seven infected people were being treated in isolation wards, the Hindustan Times reported.

However, the ministry said the spread of the infection had been contained. “It was a highly localised infection and we have been able to contain it well,” Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said.

Sudan added that there was no need to panic. “All contacts have been traced and people put on treatment and kept under observation. Special kits have been distributed for healthcare workers in Kerala for protection,” she said.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda discussed the matter with Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja, and asked citizens not to panic or spread rumours, Doordarshan reported.

Samples from two patients in Karnataka’s Mangaluru city were sent to be tested for the Nipah virus on Tuesday. One of the patients is a 20-year-old woman admitted to a private hospital in Mangaluru city with fever. The woman travelled to the city from Kasargod in Kerala and had been in contact with patients who have since tested positive for the virus, health department researcher Mohammed Sharif told

The second patient is a 75-year-old man admitted in the intensive care unit of Kasturba Medical College. Sharif said that the patient, a resident of Mangaluru, is suffering from pneumonia. He is unlikely to have contracted the virus as he has not travelled to the affected areas.

“The suspected cases will be kept under strict surveillance,” National Health Mission (Karnataka) Director Rathan Kelkar told The New Indian Express.

Sharif said rapid response teams comprising six to seven members had been formed in every district to deal with the possible outbreak of Nipah infections. The teams will disseminate awareness material about the virus at primary health centres, community health centres, and taluks and district hospitals. “We have not undertaken any active screening at airports because we believe that the infection is spreading mainly among lower income groups, and only people travelling by road from Kerala are likely to be carriers,” he added.

Dr PL Natraj, the director of the health department, said he had not received any circular from the Centre about actively screening patients.