Eleven persons, who came in contact with Kerala's latest nipah victim who died yesterday, have shown symptoms of the disease, state Health Minister Veena George said today. Up to 251 contacts in all have been identified, she said on a day the Centre, denying any reason for alarm, made some recommendations to check the spread of infection.
Of the 251 identified by Kerala's contact-tracing initiative, 129 are healthcare workers.
"There are 38 persons in isolation at Kozhikode Medical College and Hospital, of which 11 have shown symptoms. Samples of eight persons have been sent to Pune NIV (National Institute of Virology) for testing," Ms George said, adding that the health condition of all those who have shown symptoms are stable.
She said a special laboratory set up by an NIV team at the hospital will start testing the samples from tonight. The team from NIV reached Kozhikode this afternoon, PTI reported.
The Union Health Ministry has, meanwhile, recommended a strengthening of both hospital and community-based surveillance and suggested more intensive contact tracing.
In a letter written today to Kerala Chief Secretary Dr VP Joy, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan reiterated the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry's full technical support to the state government.
A team of the National Centre for Disease Control visited Kozhikode yesterday following reports of the nipah outbreak. It was based on this team's report that the Centre made its recommendations.
"Both the hospital-based and community-based surveillance need to be strengthened. Awareness needs to be created among the field formations for early detection of cases of acute encephalitis syndrome/respiratory distress and risk communicated to the public," Mr Bhushan's letter said.
"Active search for cases need to be undertaken in the containment area, as per the micro plan provided by the Central Team."
Kannur, Malappuram, and Wayanad districts -- all neighbouring Kozhikode -- have been put on high alert, the state government has said.
"I had a discussion with concerned officials in the ministry of health. They're keeping a close watch on the situation and they don't think the situation is out of control or alarming," said V Muraleedharan, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, according to an ANI report.
A 12-year-old boy had yesterday succumbed to nipah at a Kozhikode hospital. The police have cordoned off an area of three kilometres radius around the boy's house.
"The blood and serum samples of the two goats owned by the child's family will be tested at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal," Ms George said today, according to a PTI report.
The Kerala government today issued a protocol to be followed by public and private hospitals, PTI reported.
"The prime objective is surveillance, testing and treatment of the patients. As part of surveillance, effective contact tracing and quarantine will be done. Treatment protocol will be strictly followed and it will be constantly monitored," Ms George said in a release.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive in Kozhikode has been halted for the next 48 hours. However, testing and other related activities will continue.
Nipah virus is spread by the saliva of fruit bats. The first infection in southern India was reported from Kozhikode on May 19, 2018, leading to 17 subsequent deaths.