The Kerala government has started all protocol measures to trace down a group of 22 students who were in close contact with the 23-year-old man admitted to a private hospital in Ernakulam under suspicion to have contracted the Nipah virus. According to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Alleppey, the man could have been contacted with the Nipah virus but the givt is waiting for the confirmation from NIV Pune.
Talking to the media, the Health Minister of Kerala, KK Shylaja said that since the young man had travelled from his college in Idukki to a company in Thrissur with a group of 22 students, the government was tracing those people he had been in close touch with to observe them. Six students who travelled with the young man have been identified in Thrissur and they are under observation.
“We have started contact tracing already,” she said.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Contact tracing is one of the interventions used effectively during the Ebola virus disease in Africa.
“A young man was admitted to a private hospital in Kochi. The government had intervened and sent the sample to NIV in Alleppey and NIV in Pune. NIV Alleppey said that this was suspected to be Nipah, but we cannot be fully sure. We are awaiting results from Pune too,” KK Shylaja said.
She further said that the people are being asked to admit themselves to hospital if they are facing any kind of symptoms of having contracted with Nipah virus.
“We have informed the Chief Minister of the development and are following his instructions. I am travelling to Ernakulam today with Dr RL Saritha,” the Health Minister said. Dr RL Saritha, the Director of Health Services, was part of the team that combated Nipah virus in May 2018.
“People need not be scared. This young man has had a fever for more than 10 days and no other serious cases have come to our notice, including that of encephalitis. We can hope that he does not have Nipah, but we need to suspect it,” she added.
While the Helath Minister urged people to admit themselves in hospital if they experience symptoms related to Nipah virus, she also said that all cases of encephalitis or inflammation of the brain should not be suspected as Nipah immediately. “We have had cases of encephalitis but they were not because of Nipah virus. So we should not report all these cases in the media and create panic,” she said.
Nipah virus broke out in Kerala in 2018 and claimed the lives of 17 people.