Nipah outbreak: High alert in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala announced new restrictions on Friday as it stepped up measures to contain the spread of the outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus.

Two infected people have died since August 30 in Kozhikode district of the State, where officials have declared containment zones in 9 panchayats. New restrictions have been implemented in Kozhikode district with directions issued against gatherings or public events of any kind, including those at places of worship, in all the containment zones.

According to the restrictions, shops selling essential items and medical shops in these zones can operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. All places of worship will also be closed in the areas. On Friday, one more person a 39-year-old man was confirmed with the Nipah virus after his samples sent for testing returned positive, the State health department said. With this total number of active Nipah cases in the State has gone up to four.

Secretary of the Kuttiady Juma Masjid Mahallu Committee Zubair P said that the mosque has been closed even for Friday prayers complying with the orders. “In the wake of the outbreak of Nipah virus in our area…The district collector and police authorities have directed us to not gather people in the masjid. Complying with the orders we have decided to close the masjid until further orders. Friday prayers will not be held at the masjid today…We will co-operate with the government authorities to control this disease…” Zubair P said.

Two deaths from the Nipah virus in Kozhikode took place on August 30 and September 11. The Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus spread to humans from animals (such as bats or pigs), or contaminated foods and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human.

Samples of 15 people in the high-risk category in the contact list have been sent for testing. The contact list contains 950 people of which 213 are in the high-risk category.