The state confirmed on Sunday morning that a 12-year-old boy died due to the Nipah virus and 158 people who came in contact with him have been identified.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George, wearing mask, addressing a press meet on Nipah PC/New18 screengrab
news Nipah Virus Kerala Sunday, September 05, 2021 - 15:29

Authorities in Kerala’s Kozhikode district have stepped up vigil and are on high alert following the death of a 12-year-old boy due to the Nipah virus early on Sunday, September 5. Kerala Health Minister Veena George informed the media that two health workers who came in contact with the 12-year-old boy are also showing symptoms of getting infected by the virus. One of them is a staff employee at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital, and the other is a staff member at a private hospital in Kozhikode where the boy was under treatment.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George added that 158 people have been identified who came in contact with the boy, and 20 of them are on the primary contact list. The 20 people, who are in the high-risk category, will be admitted to the Medical College Hospital by evening. One ward at the medical college is being converted into a Nipah ward and Nipah positive patients will be on one floor, while symptomatic people will be treated on another floor of the ward. COVID-19 patients who are in this ward will be shifted to another building, the health minister said.

Also read: 12-year-old dies of Nipah in Kerala, Union govt rushes team to Kozhikode

The minister added that the area where the boy had been living will be declared as a containment zone. While an alert has been issued for neighbouring districts of Kannur and Malappuram, a Nipah control room has been set up in Kozhikode. The police have reportedly diverted traffic around a three kilometre-radius of the house of the child who died of Nipah. The ward of the panchayat where Nipah has been sealed off and the other wards nearby have been put under lockdown. The Kerala Health Department has deputed a special team to prevent the spread of infection and 16 core committees have been formed. 

The samples of the boy who died early on Sunday were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NVI) in Pune, and a test revealed that he was positive for Nipah. Health Minister Veena George also said that the state has urged the Union government and NVI Pune to set up a Nipah testing facility at the Kozhikode Medical College. “A Truenat testing facility will be functional from tomorrow (September 6) evening,” she said. 

Kerala had first witnessed an outbreak of the Nipah virus in 2018 in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. The first Nipah virus case was first reported in Kozhikode district at that time too. 

The virus is spread by the saliva of fruit bats. There were 17 deaths and 18 confirmed cases as of June 2018. The health department has also issued guidelines to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Also read: Nipah virus in Kerala: All you need to know about symptoms and precautions

How Kerala health officials are working to contain Nipah, one call at a time

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