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Kerala on high alert as five Nipah virus cases confirmed; govt announces two day holiday in Kozhikode

On Wednesday, a 24-year-old healthcare worker became the fifth confirmed Nipah case in Kozhikode, Kerala since the outbreak began. This development comes just a day after four people were proven to be afflicted with the Nipah virus, two of whom tragically died. Health Minister Veena George revealed that the health worker’s samples were tested at the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

A two-day holiday has also been announced for all educational institutions in the affected district. Kozhikode District Collector A Geetha confirmed the decision through a Facebook post, stating that educational institutions have the option to conduct online classes during this period. However, it’s important to note that there will be no alterations to the university exam schedule.

Following the increase in cases, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened a critical meeting to address the worsening situation. During the meeting, he asked the Kozhikode district collector to take immediate action to minimize overcrowding in public places. As part of these preventive actions, all public events in the district will remain suspended until September 24, with the mandatory use of masks in force.

In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, police and local authorities have sprung into action. Containment zones have been established in designated wards across nine panchayats. Travel restrictions have been put in place, and barricades have been erected to prevent movement. The number of confinement zones has increased from 43 to 58 as of Wednesday.

In neighboring Wayanad district, a 24-hour control room has been established to monitor the Nipah situation in Kozhikode. Additionally, the Wayanad district administration has formed 15 core committees to lead prevention and surveillance efforts and effectively respond to any emergency situations that may arise.

The strain of the virus detected in Kerala is the Bangladesh variant, which is known to transmit from human to human and has a relatively high mortality rate, although it is less infectious, according to government statements.As of now, the condition of all 76 individuals in the high-risk contact category remains stable, as reported by State Health Minister Veena George. The government has also disclosed that 13 others with mild symptoms are currently under hospital observation. Among the infected individuals, only a 9-year-old child is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).In a bid to combat the virus, the government has taken the step of ordering monoclonal antibodies from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to treat the child. While this treatment is the only available anti-viral option for Nipah virus infection, it’s important to note that it has not yet been clinically proven.

With this recent case, the total count of Nipah patients receiving treatment in the district now stands at three, and five cases in total, across Kerala. The other two individuals are the nine-year-old son and the 25-year-old brother-in-law of Mohammedali (47), the index case, who regrettably succumbed to the virus on August 30. The health department has intensified its contact-tracing efforts, with a total of 789 individuals identified as potential contacts.

(With inputs from TOI)

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