No need to panic, Kerala ready to tackle Nipah virus: Health Minister
Kozhikode (Kerala) : After three confirmed deaths due to Nipah virus (NiV) and reports of eight other patients awaited, Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja on Monday said things are under control and there is no need to panic.
Shailaja, who has been camping here since Sunday coordinating various teams from health and other departments, said there was no need to panic as all possible protocols were in place even for the medical professionals and they were also being constantly monitored.
"All the periphery hospitals of the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital are fully equipped to tackle the fever. So, all those who have fever need not necessarily rush to the medical college."
Shailaja mentioned that the visiting central team of health experts, led by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director Sujith Kumar Singh, was highly appreciative of the work being carried out by the Kerala Health Department.
"Currently, eight patients are undergoing treatment. Their samples have been sent to Pune and results are awaited," Shailaja told the media and added that the work was being carried out at a fast pace.
Nipah virus (NiV), spread by fruit bats that infects both animals and humans, claimed the lives of two brothers and their aunt in Perambara within a few weeks. Eight more people were under observation.
Transmission of NiV takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or from other NiV-infected people.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said as soon as on 19th of this month health officials found a peculiar virus being responsible for the fever, it was brought to the notice of the Centre and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a statement issued on Monday, Vijayan said: "Strict orders have been given to hospitals, including private hospitals, that not a single person who comes for treatment should be denied it. Two state ministers are camping here and coordinating the work with the expert opinion of the central team.
"Even though this (Nipah virus) is now identified to be in this district, a state-wide alert has been issued to be cautious and abide by what the experts say".
State BJP President Kummanem Rajasekheran pointed out that it was strange that whenever there was an outbreak of infections elsewhere, Kerala bore the brunt, and this needed to be looked into very seriously.
Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the state's Health Department could have risen to the occasion slightly earlier itself.
Shailaja said: "Health officials visited the house of Sabith, who along with his brother, died due to Nipah virus, and found there was a well in their house that was unused but had lots of bats.
"The authorities have sealed the top of the well to ensure that the remaining bats do not come out."
She also said that people were being educated to ensure that they do not eat any fruits that fall down from trees.
"Awareness programmes have already begun and more and more medical teams from the Centre, the Indian Medical Association and private hospitals are being readied.
"The first Central team has already arrived and another is arriving tomorrow (Tuesday)," said Shailaja.