11 samples from contacts of Nipah victim test negative

Updated on Sep 08, 2021 03:25 AM IST

Talking to reporters in the state capital, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Nipah situation was under control. The government has taken enough measures, and the deadly virus will be localised and contained effectively, he added.

A health worker directs suspected Nipah virus patients at Nipah virus isolation centre in Kozhikode Medical college on Tuesday. (PTI)
A health worker directs suspected Nipah virus patients at Nipah virus isolation centre in Kozhikode Medical college on Tuesday. (PTI)
By, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram

Eleven samples collected from close contacts of a 12-year-old boy who died of Nipah this week tested negative for the disease on Tuesday in what was described by the Kerala government as a big relief for a state, which is struggling to control its Covid-19 cases.

Talking to reporters in the state capital, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Nipah situation was under control. The government has taken enough measures, and the deadly virus will be localised and contained effectively, he added.

“Samples, including that of parents, were tested negative. The condition of those admitted to hospitals with symptoms is stable now. We are expecting more results from the National Institute of Virology (Pune),” Vijayan said.

He added that four ministers were camping in Kozhikode in north Kerala to review the Nipah situation and help the district administration. Out of 257 contacts of the boy, 141 are health workers, and 51 of them have been hospitalised as a precaution. Only the primary contacts of the boy and those showing severe symptoms are being tested. Around 21 samples have been sent so far, some are getting tested in medical college lab with the help of NIV scientists camping in the city.

At a time when the state is grappling with a high Covid-19 caseload -- Kerala reported 25,722 cases on Tuesday -- Nipah claimed the life of the boy on Sunday, leading to a high alert in Kozhikode and neighbouring districts. The region is reporting Nipah infections for the second time in four years. In 2018, it claimed 17 lives in the district.

“Different teams are at work to trace the source of infection. Experts have recovered half-eaten rambutan fruits from the premises of the boy. They also found a fruit bat habitat near his house,” said state health minister Veena George, adding that a team from the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases Laboratory from Bhopal will be in the city on Wednesday.

The fruit bat is considered the main carrier and reservoir of the virus.

Though bats were suspected to be behind the outbreak in 2018, no expansive study was done on the source of the disease that infected at least 19 that year, 17 died, and two survived.

“It is a great relief for us that all are negative. Among 11, include the boy’s parents and medical officials. We will localize and contain the outbreak as we did in 2018,” stressed the minister.

Colleges to open from October 4

The Covid cases reported in the state on Tuesday -- the daily positivity rate was 15.87% -- were also lower than what the state was reporting last week when the average positivity rate was over 20% and daily cases crossed 30,000 on three days last week.

“The expert committee on pandemic has recommended to lift Sunday lockdown and night curfew. We can’t remain in lockdown forever. We have also decided to open colleges and higher educational institutions from October 4,” CM Vijayan said.

Students above 18 and teachers should have taken at least one dose of the vaccine to attend classes. Vijayan said that 76.15% of the eligible population was vaccinated in the state. A decision on reopening schools will be taken later, he said.

“We have no idea why the night curfew was imposed during night movement is very low. Good, finally it was withdrawn. It is time for the government to begin some serious studies. Our experiences show such infections are likely to crop up again, and it should share data with research bodies,” said Dr S S Lal, who was formerly with World Health Organisation.

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