The number of Zika virus cases in Kerala rose to 19 on Monday evening, ANI reported.
“A 73-year old woman, who was being treated at a private hospital in the capital [Thiruvananthapuram], was diagnosed with the virus,” state Health Minister Veena George said about the latest case.
On Sunday, the state reported three cases, the Hindustan Times reported. The health minister said that a 22-month-old child was among those infected. A day before this, one sample tested positive, according to The New Indian Express.
The Union health ministry has sent a team of experts to the state to help contain the virus.
George said the state government has arranged testing facilities at the Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Kozhikode medical colleges and also at the National Institute of Virology unit in Alappuzha, PTI reported.
“The Thiruvananthapuram medical college received 500 Triplex kits, which enable the simultaneous detection and differentiation of RNA from dengue virus, chikungunya virus and Zika virus; and 500 Singleplex kits which can detect Zika virus alone,” the minister said in the release on Sunday.
The state government said it has received 2,100 test kits from the National Institute of Virology, Pune. Out of these, 1,000 have been given to Thiruvananthapuram, 300 each to Thrissur and Kozhikode and 500 to National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha.
The first Zika virus case was reported in a 24-year-old pregnant woman, who was admitted to a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on June 28. The woman is currently in a stable condition.
On Friday, the state government said that 13 samples were found positive out of the 19 sent to the National Institute of Virology.
The Zika outbreak in Kerala has come at a time when the state is already struggling with a heavy Covid-19 case load. For over a month, the state has been registering between 11,000 and 13,000 coronavirus cases daily. In the past 24 hours, Kerala reported 12,220 new infections, the highest in the country.
What is the Zika virus?
The virus has been linked to shrunken brains in children and a rare auto-immune disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome. Usually, however, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache.
In 2018, more than 100 people were found infected with the virus in Rajasthan. In 2016-’17, Gujarat had also reported a Zika virus outbreak.