Another patient who was under observation at the Government Medical college Hospital in Kozhikode for symptoms resembling Nipah infection died on Saturday, though her reports have come negative twice and hence could not be considered a Nipah death.
Health Minister K.K. Shailaja told reporters after a Nipah review meeting in Kozhikode on Saturday that the patient, Roja from Thalasseri in Kannur district, was undergoing treatment at the Pariyaram Medical College. She was brought to Kozhikode Medical College only recently as she showed Nipah-like symptoms and was put under observation. Her blood samples were tested twice for Nipah virus, but came out negative. Her family members, who had fever earlier, have also been cured now, the Minister said.
Additional Chief Secretary in charge of Health and Family Welfare Rajeev Sadanandan said that there was no need to panic as all the infections that turned out positive so far happened only in a hospital environment and also before May 17, when the second Nipah death took place. “There has been no infection after May 17, which shows the efficiency of our preventive measures”, he said adding that there was no carelessness or laxity in vigilance at any stage.
Mr. Sadanandan said that medicines for Nipah infection have been brought from Australia and the same would reach Kozhikode by evening. The medicines were brought as per a contract between the Government of Australia and Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).
‘No NiV+ cases at present in city’
The medicines will be unpacked only in the presence of ICMR representatives who are expected to be in Kozhikode by Monday. However, the medicines will be used only in case of any fresh cases of infection as there are no NiV+ cases in Kozhikode at present. Out of the 18 who had tested positive, 16 have died and two under treatment have started showing improvement in their condition and have subsequently tested negative.
Mr. Sadanandan said that the isolation room in Government Medical College hospital, Kozhikode, is maintained following the Ebola handling guidelines. The room has been divided into four sections, one each for NiV+ patients, those who show acute symptoms yet unconfirmed, those with mild fever or other symptoms and for those who are under observation for their close contact with the victims. A fever outpatient ward has been set up just outside the room and the patients are not allowed to mix with other people, he said.
The Minister said that Ayurveda and Homoeopathy practitioners have been given free hand to engage in preventive measures against Nipah, as they have been doing regularly for rain and mosquito borne diseases. However, they have been strictly warned against treating patients who show symptoms of Nipah, as it was too dangerous for them.
School reopening on June 12
District Collector U.V. Jose said that the schools and professional colleges in Kozhikode will reopen only on June 12 as part of a preventive measure against Nipah infection. The restriction on public gatherings that was imposed till June 4 has been extended to June 12.
While all state level examinations, including that of the Kerala Public Service Commssion have been postponed, the national level tests including the UPSC examinations on Sunday would not be affected by the restrictions. However vigilance will be maintained at the examination centres and candidates showing any of the symptoms will be removed from the examination halls, he has said.
Abu Dhabi-based VPS Healthcare, as part of its CSR initiative, has donated protective gear worth ₹1.75 crore to the government of Kerala, for the healthcare personnel in the State fighting against Nipah. The kits were handed over to Principal of Government Medical College Dr. V.R.Rajendran by Hafiz Ali, India in-charge of VPS Health Care, on behalf of Managing Director Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil.