The Nipah virus spreads much slower than Covid and unlike Covid, it spreads through a vector, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told DailyExpertNews today. There is a treatment protocol and once tests are done and the disease is identified, treatment can progress quickly, he added.
Five cases of Nipah virus have emerged in Kerala. Two people have died and the other three, including a nine-year-old boy, are being treated. The boy is critical and is on a ventilator.
Asked about the new disease that created fresh panic in light of the pandemic the world went through four years ago, the minister told DailyExpertNews in an exclusive interview: “I would like to assure that Covid has taught us a lot, including our weaknesses, and has led to better surveillance systems.”
The government, he said, has set up such a system now that information about any outbreak – even from a remote village – can immediately reach the central command system. “We can conduct surveillance in a remote village and collect information,” he said.
Part of the reason is the district laboratories that the government is setting up in each district, he said. The government has spent Rs 100 crore in each district on setting up laboratories for testing, which will be conducted free of charge.
“We are setting up this system across the country so that the Center is immediately informed… the genome sequencing is done and the information comes to the command centre,” he said.
About the current outbreak, he said, “Today there is an outbreak of Nipah virus in a village in Kozhikode. Word got out immediately and we took immediate action. Our teams went, the SOP was implemented and the state and the Center took action. We will do whatever it takes to ensure there are no new cases,” he added.
“I want to assure the country that the Narendra Modi government is taking care of the health sector of the country in a very thorough and careful manner,” he added.
The virus, spread through vectors such as bats and pigs, causes fever, respiratory distress, headache and vomiting. There is no vaccine to prevent or cure the infection. Treatment includes supportive care.
The Kerala government has declared seven villages in Kozhikode district – Atanchery, Maruthonkara, Tiruvallur, Kuttiyadi, Kayakkodi, Villyapalli and Kavilumpara – as containment zones. Essential items are being delivered to people who are isolated.
The state has formed 19 core committees to coordinate measures to combat the spread of the virus.