Dubai: The United Arab Emirates has asked its citizens to put off unnecessary travel to Kerala, where a Nipah virus infection has claimed 12 lives while at least 40 others are in quarantine, the health ministry said in a statement.
The Nipah virus, which commonly affects animals such as bats, pigs, dogs, and horses, can spread to humans and cause serious illness among humans.
In Kerala, the Nipah virus has so far claimed 12 lives and the state government has stepped up efforts to contain the outbreak.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) in a statement said that it was closely monitoring the situation.
"The ministry works with its strategic partners to assess the risk of importation of Nipah virus (NiV) cases to the country and put the necessary control measures. Also, Mohap is in continuous coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to implement the global recommendations," the statement read.
"Mohap alerts the people travelling to Kerala to be aware of possibly of contracting the infection and advises them to postpone unnecessary travel till the situation will be controlled," it added.
The WHO, however, has not issued any specific advice to countries that have not been affected by the Nipah but has asked them to enhance the level of preparedness.
Among the advisories given, the world body has advised countries to enhance surveillance at healthcare facilities including at points of entry and give case definitions among healthcare workers.
It said that Nipah symptoms are not specific and include flu-like illness and hence can be confused with any respiratory illness.
Dubai-based Emirates airlines also issues a statement saying that they are monitoring the situation closely.
"Emirates is aware of recent Nipah cases reported in the state of Kerala, India. The safety of our passengers and crew will always be our top priority, and we are monitoring the situation closely. With regards to preventive or other measures, we will take guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international bodies. At this time, there are no recommended actions for airlines, " the statement said.