The death toll from Nipah virus has risen to 16 in Kerala with state Health Minister K.K. Shailaja warning of a possible second outbreak.
Though the minister said that there is no need for panic, she pointed out that since all those in contact with the affected are still in the incubating period of the virus, utmost caution has to be maintained.
Nipah Virus Outbreak: After 10 deaths, Kerala govt issues advisory against travelling to 4 districts
"We had indicated at the outset itself, there could be a possible second outbreak and the vulnerable are those who would have in come in contact with the affected. All such people have to be closely watched... tests will reveal only at the appropriate time when the symptoms of Nipah virus surface, so all those who have come in direct contact with the earlier affected have to see they get in touch with the special control room set up in Kozhikode," she said.
Shailaja said till now out of the 18 who tested positive for Nipah, 16 have died but the remaining two however are recovering.
The new direction came after two fresh deaths were reported on Thursday. Both were undergoing treatment at the state-run hospital at Balussery near here.
On Friday, all six doctors and other medical professionals at the hospital were asked to take leave and rest.
State Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran, who hails from this district, said the need of the hour is for people to be very cautious as even when things are under control, people have to cooperate.
Nipah virus is transmitted to humans through infected fruit bats, pigs or other Nipah-infected persons.
Perambara, a suburban town near here, has been the worst-affected as the first case was reported from here and four people of a family died. To find out the source of the virus, a number of samples from a particular variety of bats were taken, but they turned out to be negative.
A second set of samples from fruit bats is currently being tested at High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory in Bhopal and the results are now awaited.
Meanwhile, taking into account the gravity of the situation, the Public Service Commission on Friday has postponed all its examination till June 16. And while the new academic year began on Friday in all schools in the state, schools in Kozhikode will open only on June 5.
(With IANS inputs)