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“All arrangements in place to prevent Nipah spread”: Kerala Health Minister Veena George

The Kerala Health Department has, meanwhile, issued an alert for Kannur, Wayanad, and Malappuram districts after two confirmed Nipah deaths in Kozhikode.

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veena george, kerala, minister, health minister

Amid fears of the spread of the Nipah virus in Kerala after the deaths of two patients in Kozhikode district, Health Minister Veena George said the state government had made all arrangements to contain the pathogen and ensure public safety.

In a reply to a query by CPI MLA P Balachandran in the Assembly, George said on Wednesday, “It is now confirmed that the two patients, who died on Monday at a private hospital in Kozhikode, were infected with the Nipah virus. There are two active cases in the district presently. Both the active cases—a 9-year-old child and a 24-year-old person—are relatives of one of the deceased.”

“After the unnatural deaths of two people, the health director swung into action immediately. On Tuesday, the central government sent a team of health experts to Kerala after the Union Health Minister (Mansukh Mandaviya) confirmed that the two unnatural deaths were caused by the Nipah virus,” the minister added. The first death was reported on August 30, and the second on September 11.

The minister informed us further that the Health Department held a high-level meeting on Monday, and all senior health officials were asked to visit Kozhikode to assess the situation. Certain protocols were issued, and 16 committees were put together to keep track of the situation, the minister informed, adding that surveillance and contact tracing were being ensured in the district and isolation wards have also been opened at Kozhikode Medical College.

“The health department has taken every possible step to prevent the spread of the Nipah infection. The priority for the Health Department at this stage is to prevent more people from catching the Nipah virus and arrange timely treatment of suspected patients, including psychological support,” the Health Minister said. She added that while there are two laboratories in the state where samples could be tested for Nipah, only the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, has been vested with the authority, under central norms, to determine if a person is infected with Nipah.

The Kerala Health Department has, meanwhile, issued an alert for Kannur, Wayanad, and Malappuram districts after two confirmed Nipah deaths in Kozhikode. George said the Health department made contact with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which assured of the availability of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of the suspected Nipah patients admitted at a private hospital.

The Health minister, along with Public Works Department Minister Mohammed Riyaz, reached Kozhikode earlier on Tuesday to coordinate the response to the suspected Nipah outbreak with the district administration. An emergency meeting was held with MLAs of the district, people’s representatives of the affected areas, the district collector, senior health officials, and other officers concerned in the district.

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