Kozhikode, Kerala: The Nipah virus, considered more dangerous than the Coronavirus, has triggered alarm in Kerala. The state has reported six cases of Nipah so far, with two fatalities. This has led to a situation similar to a lockdown in the state. Kerala’s Health Minister, Veena George, provided an update on the Nipah virus situation on Saturday, offering some reassurance.
Veena George announced, “The results of 11 samples sent for Nipah testing have returned negative. We have had six positive cases, which was the count until yesterday, and no new cases have been reported today.” Currently, 21 individuals are in isolation at the medical college. The primary focus is now on tracing those who came into contact with the most recent positive case. Efforts are also underway to determine the source of the initial case, the individual who passed away last month.
Kozhikode, Kerala |On Nipah virus, Kerala Health Minister Veena George says, “Results of 11 samples sent for the Nipah test have come out negative. So far, 6 samples have come out positive, that is the count till yesterday, and no new cases have come. Now there are 21 persons in… pic.twitter.com/XkvxkucbKO
— ANI (@ANI) September 16, 2023
Using Mobile Tower Locations for Tracing
The Health Minister explained, “We have requested the police to provide the mobile tower location of the affected individual so that we can trace the places they visited. We have already formed 19 teams. Additionally, we are tracing individuals from other districts who have come into contact with Nipah patients.”
Identifying Contacts and Testing
Earlier, the state health department had identified 1,080 individuals who had come into contact with the positive cases and initiated sample collection. It was noted that all individuals considered high-risk contacts of the infected individuals would be tested. The Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune had dispatched its mobile Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) laboratory to Kozhikode for testing virus samples in the district.
Recurrence of Nipah in Kerala
This marks the fourth occurrence of Nipah viral infection in the state. Previously, it was detected in Kozhikode in 2018 and 2021, and in Ernakulam in 2019.
Closure of Educational Institutions
Due to the rising Nipah cases, the Kozhikode district administration has ordered the suspension of physical classes in all educational institutions from September 18 to 23. According to the District Collector, A Geeta, educational institutions, including tuition and coaching centers, are prohibited from conducting in-person classes. This decision was made in a meeting chaired by Education Minister V Sivankutty.
The ban extends to Anganwadis and Madrasas as well, under sections 26, 30, and 34 of the Disaster Management Act. No students are allowed to enter educational institutions during this period. However, public examinations will proceed as scheduled. Notably, apart from Thursday and Friday, Saturday (September 16) was also declared a holiday in educational institutions in Kozhikode.
Studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggest that the Nipah virus has affected not only Kozhikode but the entire state. People living in forest areas are advised to exercise extreme caution, as the latest virus has emerged within a five-kilometer radius of forested regions.