Nipah: Kerala govt advisory against travelling to 4 Northern districts

Nipah: Kerala govt advisory against travelling to 4 Northern districts

Doctors and patients wear safety masks as a precautionary measure after the 'Nipah' virus outbreak, at a Medical college, in Kozhikode, on Wednesday. PTI Photo

With 10 deaths due to the deadly Nipah virus being reported so far from northern Kerala, the state government today issued an advisory, asking travellers to avoid visiting the four districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur. "Travelling to any part of Kerala is safe.

However, if travellers wish to be extra cautious, they may avoid the four districts", Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said. The government has also called for an all-party meeting at Kozhikode on May 25 to discuss the issue. MPs, MLAs, other representatives of people and leaders of various political parties would attend the meeting, Health minister K K Shylaja said.

Ten people have lost their lives to Nipah in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts so far and 19 are undergoing treatment in various hospitals, including one in Waynad. Of the 13 confirmed cases, 10 persons have died. Isolation wards have also been set up in Thalassery government hospital in Kannur, according to media reports. In Kozhikode, from where seven deaths have been reported, District Collector U V Jose has ordered temporary stoppage of all training programmes and summer camps in affected areas such as Changaroth, Koorachund, Kottur, Cheruvannur, Chekyad, Chakkittapara and Olavanna.

The anganwadis is these regions too have been asked to close down to avoid the spread of the virus among children. However, no decision has been taken yet concerning the reopening of schools after the summer vacation. The administration is hoping that the situation will be under control by the time schools reopen after a week. "The number of newly infected cases is very low now", Jose said in a statement. In neighbouring Malappuram, where three persons have died due to the virus, orders have been issued in four panchayats to stop Anganwadi classes for the time being. A crisis management group has been constituted to coordinate the response of government agencies following the deaths in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. The group comprises Additional Chief Secretaries of Health, Revenue, Labour, Home; Principal secretary Forest, Director Animal Husbandry and state Epidemiologists, among others.

Keeping in mind the sacrifice of 28-year-old Lini Puthussery, a nurse at Perambra Taluk hospital, who died after being infected by the virus while treating her patients, Government today decided to give a job to her husband and financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh each for her two sons-- aged five and two. The next of kin of nine others who died of the virus would be given an assistance of Rs five lakh each. Meanwhile, DGP Loknath Behara warned that stern action would be taken against those who spread false information with regard to the virus in the social media. Creation of fake or false messages, spreading them to cause panic or public disorder are criminal acts and liable for investigation and prosecution. Directions have been issued to DGP (crimes) to register criminal cases against the creators of the messages and propagators, he said.

An expert team from the National Centre for Disease -Control (NCDC), including its director, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and Head of Epidemiology, Dr S K Jain, and a high-level team from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS)are already in Kerala to take stock of the situation. Surveillance has been increased in all districts. The outbreak of the virus infection, which is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans, is suspected to be from an unused well which was infested with bats. The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. The Kerala Health minister also said there was no need to be afraid of bats and their habitats should not to destroy.