Union Minister of State for Health, Ashwini Choubey, on Saturday said that the Nipah virus had been contained, PTI reported. Choubey said that no fresh cases of the strain had been reported and that it was safe to visit the state.
Choubey was in West Bengal to meet several health officials and state ministers. “There have been no new cases of Nipah reported from anywhere in the country,” Choubey said. “The virus has been stalled. This is a good sign. Nipah is not epidemic and there is nothing to be scared of.”
The minister of state dismissed fears that people were returning to West Bengal from Kerala. “There is no need to run away from anywhere,” Choubey said. No Nipah virus related deaths have been reported in West Bengal yet.
The minister said the families of those who died of the virus were kept in isolation and treated. They were out of danger, he said.
The Nipah virus causes fever and upper respiratory distress in humans that quickly escalates to encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, and in some cases myocarditis or inflammation of the heart. Its natural host is the fruit bat and it is transmitted through contact and transfer of body fluids.
At least 17 people died of the virus. The first Nipah death in Kerala took place on May 5, and was confirmed by the National Institute of Virology in Pune on May 20. Two infected persons are being treated at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode while around 2,000 more are under observation on suspicion of having come in close contact with infected persons. Among the dead was Kozhikode nurse Lini Puthussery, who was infected by her patient and whose final letter to her husband went viral.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia temporarily banned frozen and processed fruit and vegetable imports from Kerala. On June 1, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja asked citizens not to panic, even as she warned of a second possible outbreak.