• Monday, October 02, 2023


India’s Kerala partially restricts public life after deadly Nipah virus claims 2 lives

The state’s health minister said they were focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone showing symptoms.

A couple of hospital staff members remove waste out of isolation ward in the wake of the outbreak of Nipah virus in the southern Indian state of Kerala. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE southern Indian state of Kerala has closed some schools, offices and public transport, authorities on Wednesday (13) confirmed as they try to control the deadly spread of the brain-damaging Nipah virus that has claimed two lives.

According to a Reuters report, an adult and a child were still infected and were receiving treatment at hospital. More than 130 people have been tested for the virus that spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs or people, the report said, quoting state health officials.

“We are focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone with symptoms,” Kerala’s health minister Veena George was quoted as saying.

She also told reporters the strain of the virus was being examined.

“Public movement has been restricted in parts of the state to contain the medical crisis.”

Two persons infected with the virus in the state have died since August 30 in the state’s fourth outbreak of the virus since 2018, forcing officials to come up with containment zones in at least seven villages in the northern district of Kozhikode.

Strict isolation rules were also put in place, with medical staff members being questioned following direct contact with those infected.

While the first victim of the virus was a small landholder in the village of Maruntonkara, a government official said, the second death happened following contact in the hospital with the first victim, initial medical investigation showed.

The two were not related, the official said on the condition of anonymity.

The daughter and brother-in-law of the first victim, both of whom are infected, are kept in an isolation ward with other members of the family and neighbours undergoing treatment.

Three teams from New Delhi, including experts from the National Virology Institute, were scheduled to visit the state on Wednesday for more tests, the official added.

The Nipah virus was first detected in 1999 following an outbreak of illness among the pig farmers and others who were in close contact with animals in Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore and Malaysia.

Twenty-one of the 23 infected died in Kerala’s first Nipah outbreak while the outbreaks in 2019 and 2021 claimed two more lives.

A Reuters investigation in May found parts of Kerala as among the places that are at biggest risk for outbreaks of bat viruses.

Extensive deforestation and urbanisation have brought people and wildlife into close contact.

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