‘So, as of now, there is no secondary wave. That is welcome news,” said Veena George,Health Minister,Kerala
In a relief for the Kerala government, no fresh positive cases of Nipah virus were reported on Saturday in the state even as five more persons, who came into contact with those infected, showing some symptoms of the disease were admitted in isolation at the medical hospital here.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George, at a press briefing in the evening, said that in a relief for the state, no fresh positive cases were reported during the day.
However, results of 51 samples sent for testing were awaited, she said.
The minister also said five more persons, who had come into contact with the infected persons, were admitted in the hospital, after showing symptoms of Nipah infection.
”Their samples have also been sent for testing,” she said.
At present, six cases of Nipah infection have been confirmed in the state.
Of the six, two persons have died bringing the number of active cases to 4.
The minister said the number of people who were suspected of coming into contact with those infected has risen to 1,192, with 97 persons being traced today.
Additionally, house surveillance was carried out in 22,208 homes in the containment zones till date, she said.
George also said that all the cases so far have emanated from the first person infected — the index case — who died on August 30.
”So, as of now, there is no secondary wave. That is welcome news,” she said at the press briefing which was also attended by State Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas.
Earlier in the day, George said that with the identification of the patient zero or index case of the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, the state government has begun looking for the source and place from where he got infected by seeking details of his mobile tower locations.
She said that while the state government was trying to determine where and how the man got infected, the central team was collecting bat samples to ascertain the viral load.
She also claimed that the state’s efforts to combat the virus outbreak were appreciated by the central team.
Everyone, including a nine-year-old boy on a ventilator, who is under treatment for the virus or is in isolation is stable, she had said.
The minister had also said that all those infected are part of the first wave of the infection which has manifested in two clusters — one being the two family members of the man who was the index case and the second being the persons who came into contact with him at the hospital he went for treatment.
Regarding the monoclonal antibody, the only viable therapeutic against the virus, the minister said in the morning that according to the Centre it was 50-60 per cent stable and it has asked the state government to explore the possibility of getting a new version of the antibody.
”Presently, according to the doctors, the patients under treatment do not require it,” she had said.
However, the state requested the Centre’s support for expediting the process required for importing the monoclonal antibody and the same was assured.
Riyas, who was present with George at the morning press briefing, had said the control room, call centres and volunteers were doing an excellent job of instilling confidence in the public and creating awareness among them about the virus.
Kozhikode city Mayor Beena Philip, meanwhile, said all the wards where the man, who was the index case, went have been declared as containment zones.
”He has moved around a lot. Therefore, the contact list is expected to get bigger,” she said.
Kozhikode District Collector A Geetha said that arrangements have been made for online classes in educational institutions for the coming week and instructed students not to engage in holiday-related celebrations.
The Collector also said that Beypore harbour will remain closed till further orders as it falls in one of the containment zones and provided two alternative locations for landing fishing vessels and sale of the catch.
The key aspect to address right now is how the primary contact contracted the infection which is still unknown, said Indian Medical Association (IMA) Public Health Standing Committee Chairman Dr A Althaf following the Nipah outbreak in Kerala.
“The first outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala was in May 2018…The most important thing is that we still don’t know how the primary case contracted the disease. That is the key aspect we have to address right now,” Dr Althaf told ANI.
Further, he said, “We conducted a study by coordinating with the public and private sector physicians and other health workers, it was an elaborate one. We collected all the details including the contacts, and the reason for transmission among the public as well as the health workers. But we still lack information about how the primary contact contracted the disease. If he contracted it from bats or some other animals or from another source. Till now, we lack that information.”
He said that almost 99 per cent of the cases in all outbreaks are secondary cases, apart from the primary cases.
“The primary case gets the disease from nature…we may have to stick to strict protocols to contain the infection,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kerala Health Minister Veena George earlier today said that no new cases of the Nipah virus infection were reported in Kerala till Saturday afternoon after samples of 11 more people tested negative for the infectious virus.
The Centre on Friday decided to procure from Australia 20 more doses of monoclonal antibody through the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for treatment of those infected by Nipah.
The ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune had sent its mobile BSL-3 (Biosafety Level-3) laboratory to Kozhikode to test the samples for the virus in the district.
This is the fourth time the viral infection has been confirmed in the state. It was detected in Kozhikode in 2018 and 2021 and in Ernakulam in 2019.
The World Health Organisation and ICMR studies have found that the entire state, not just Kozhikode, is prone to such infections.