NEW DELHI – The southern Indian state of Kerala shut some schools, offices and public transport on Wednesday in a race to stop the spread of the rare and deadly Nipah virus, which has killed two people.
Two adults and a child were still infected in hospital, and more than 700 people were being tested for the virus, spread via contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs or people, a state health official said.
The state government on Wednesday evening said at least 706 people, including 153 health workers, were undergoing tests to check the spread of the virus. Results were awaited.
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“More people could be tested… Isolation facilities will be provided,” Mr Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala, said in a statement. He asked people to avoid public gatherings in the Kozhikode district for the next 10 days.
Two infected people have died since Aug 30 in Kerala’s fourth outbreak of the virus since 2018, forcing authorities to declare containment zones in at least eight Kozhikode villages.
“We are focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone with symptoms,” state Health Minister Veena George told reporters.
She said the virus detected in Kerala was the same as one found earlier in Bangladesh, a strain that spreads from human to human with a high mortality rate but has a history of being less infectious.
“Public movement has been restricted in parts of the state to contain the medical crisis,” she said, adding that state epidemiologists were using antivirals and monoclonal antibodies to treat three people infected, including a medical worker.
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Strict isolation rules have been adopted, with medical staff being quarantined after contact with the infected.