Kerala health minister says 23-year-old student in Thiruvananthapuram 'suspected' to have Nipah virus day after district officials called reports 'baseless'

A day after Ernakulam district officials rejected reports claiming confirmation of Nipah virus case in the region as baseless, the Kerala government on Monday confirmed that a 23-year-old college student, admitted to a private hospital in Kochi, is suspected to have been infected by the virus. A final confirmation is still awaited.

In a statement on Sunday, Ernakulam district collector Mohammed Y Safirulla said usual medical examinations were carried out on patients arriving with the symptoms of Nipah virus.

Some social media reports had said that Nipah virus had been confirmed on a patient admitted to a hospital in Ernakulam district was baseless, he said. There was no need for any concern, he added.

 Kerala health minister says 23-year-old student in Thiruvananthapuram suspected to have Nipah virus day after district officials called reports baseless

File image of people wearing safety masks as a precaution against the Nipah virus in Kerala. PTI

On Monday, however, Kerala health minister KK Shailaja confirmed the reports and said that all precautions have been taken and isolation wards were set up at the Kalamassery Medical College Hospital in Kochi.

Earlier also, there have been suspected cases and samples sent for tests but results had turned out to be negative, she said.

"In this case also the patient's samples have been sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune and the government is awaiting results. Only after we get the report from the institute can it be confirmed if the patient is infected by the virus or not," Shailaka told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. Reports said that results from Manipal Institute of Virology were also awaited.

The student, hailing from Ernakulam district, had studied in a college in Thodupuzha in Idukki and had stayed in Thrissur recently in connection with a camp.

According to Thrissur District Medical Officer Thrissur District Medical Officer KJ Reena, the student was in Thrissur just for four days and had been suffering from fever. "The student came to Thrissur on May 21st. He had a fever while he came here. After two days consulted doctors in two private hospitals in Thrissur. The infection is only in his head right now, it has not been passed to his respiratory system. An isolation wing has been readied in Thrissur Medical College too," she was quoted as saying by The News Minute.

There were 16 other students with him and six of them who came in direct contact with him, are under observation she said.

The Idukki district medical authorities said the college in Thodupuzha, where the student is studying, is also under observation.

The minister said there was no need for people to panic as the government has taken all precautionary measures and asked all private hospitals to inform them if suspected cases are reported.

Government, private and peripheral hospitals have bee asked to be cautious, she said, adding a high-level meeting of health officials would be held in Kochi on Monday afternoon.

According to state government figures, the Nipah virus had claimed 17 lives -- 14 in Kozhikode and three in neighbouring Malappuram in May last year.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jun 03, 2019 13:34:44 IST