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Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged people not to panic and to take precautions instead. Representative image

Nipah virus: NIV teams to arrive in Kerala; numerous steps taken to prevent spread

Health Minister Veena George told the state Assembly that the virus is a Bangladesh variant – with high mortality rate but less infectious

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Teams from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune would arrive in Kerala during the day to set up a mobile lab at Kozhikode Medical College to test for Nipah and carry out survey of bats, the state government said in the assembly on Wednesday (September 13).

The move comes in the wake of Nipah infection being confirmed in four persons in Kozhikode district of the state.

Responding to a query regarding the Nipah infection in the assembly, State Health Minister Veena George said that the virus strain seen in Kerala was the Bangladesh variant that spreads from human to human and has a high mortality rate, though it is less infectious.

George further said that besides the teams from NIV, Pune, a group of epidemiologists would reach Kerala on Wednesday (September 13) from Chennai to carry out a survey.

Additionally, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has agreed to fly down the monoclonal antibodies that are required to treat Nipah patients, she told the House.

The minister was responding to a query by CPI MLA P Balachandran during the Question-Answer hour regarding the measures taken to deal with the Nipah virus which has killed two and infected two others in Kozhikode.

Steps taken to prevent spread

George said surveillance, contact tracing, categorising them into low and high-risk, setting up isolation facilities for them, demarcating containment zones, and procuring medicines from ICMR for those infected were some of the numerous steps taken by the Health department to prevent the spread of the brain-damaging virus.

Seven village panchayats - Atanchery, Maruthonkara, Tiruvallur, Kuttiyadi, Kayakkodi, Villyapalli, and Kavilumpara - in Kerala's Kozhikode district have been declared as containment zones.

Soon after the Nipah virus infection was confirmed in Kozhikode district on Tuesday (September 12), Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had urged people not to panic and to take precautions instead.

"Everyone should strictly follow the instructions of the health department and the police and fully cooperate with the restrictions," he had said.

One of those infected with the virus was a nine-year-old boy.

The death of the first person, on August 30, was initially considered a death due to the comorbidity of liver cirrhosis, but his son, the nine-year-old boy who is already in the ICU, and his 24-year-old brother-in-law are the two positive cases that were detected on Tuesday (September 12).

(With agency inputs)

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