Centre assures all help to Kerala after 23-year-old tests positive for Nipah
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday the Centre will give all support to the government in Kerala, where a 23-year old man has been tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus.
The National Institute of Virology in Pune has confirmed the engineering graduate in Kerala’s Ernakulam district is infected with the brain-damaging virus.
Another man was shifted to an isolation ward of a private hospital in Ernakulam as four others were kept under observation. Two nurses, who treated the first victim, have developed high fever and are also among the 86 people under observation so far. The condition of the affected people is stated to be stable.
Harshvardhan held an emergency meeting with all senior officials, including the health secretary, of his minister and experts at his residence on Tuesday morning.
“I have assured the Kerala health minister of all possible support from the central government. We are also in touch with the wildlife department to seek their help for subjecting the bats for testing of the virus. I don’t think there is any need to panic,” Union health minister Harsh Vardhan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Union health ministry has also dispatched a team of experts from NIV for conducting tests on bats that are known to be the carriers of the virus in and around Ernakulam district, where the first case was reported. It is working in close collaboration with the forest department.
A control room has also been established and National Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) Strategic Health Operations Centre (SHOC) activated in the state, which can be contacted at 011-23978046, for any related queries.
Earlier, the ministry had constituted a six-member team to assess the situation on the ground and assist the state government in preparedness that has reached the state. It has reached Kochi.
Kerala’s health department has already managed to trace all those who have come into the contact of the infected man and put them on surveillance.
Healthcare staff, ambulance fleet drivers and other staff are also being trained to handle the situation. Infection control measures are being improved in hospitals as the disease is highly infectious.
A rapid response team to be sent to assess any suspected case has also been formed and a help desk established at the Ernakulam medical college.
The virus that causes high fever, headache and coma in extreme cases is spread by fruit bats. Body fluids can cause human-to-human transmission of Nipah, which has a mortality rate of 70% and has no vaccine.
The outbreak in May last year had claimed 17 lives, including that of a nurse Lini Puthussery, who was part of a team treating one of the patients. The outbreak was localised in two districts and contained within two weeks.