Updated: September 5, 2021 4:31:48 pm
The contact list of the 12-year-old boy, who succumbed to the Nipah virus early Sunday morning in Kerala’s Kozhikode, expanded to 188 persons and counting, a top district health official confirmed.
Of them, 20 are considered to have had high-risk primary contact with the deceased and two of them, both health workers, have started exhibiting symptoms, said Kozhikode district medical officer V Jayasree. The majority of those on the contact list are health workers.
The high-risk contacts will be kept under observation in a newly-opened isolation ward at the Kozhikode Medical College, the apex government-run hospital in the district which had treated Nipah virus patients during an outbreak in 2018.
“As we get more names (of primary and secondary contacts), it will be added to the list,” she said. The list includes at least five relatives of the deceased.
The 12-year-old boy, whose identity has not been disclosed by the state health department, was admitted to a private hospital in Kozhikode on September 1 with encephalitis and myocarditis. Since the symptoms were similar to that of the Nipah virus, three sets of samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for confirmation. The samples came back positive late Saturday night, but the teenager was in a critical condition. He passed away at 4:45 am Sunday. His body was buried following WHO protocols earlier on Sunday.
For the health workers, the contact tracing exercise has been challenging as the boy was admitted to three other hospitals, including the Medical College hospital, before being taken in by a fourth hospital on September 1. The health department has promised to publish a detailed route map of the boy and his family between Aug 27 and Sept 1 so that those who potentially came into contact with them could go into quarantine and be kept under observation.
A three-kilometre radius around the home of the deceased in Chathamangalam panchayat has been declared a containment zone with all roads shut off. Police officers have been posted to keep a check on the area. High alert has been sounded in Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kannur districts.
‘The boy was not Covid-positive’
Kerala Health Minister Veena George, who held high-level meetings with health officials at the Kozhikode Collectorate, dismissed rumours that the deceased had been infected with Covid too. “He was not Covid-positive at any stage,” she said.
She said the department would probe recent deaths in the family of the teenager and in the households in the area to check for links with the current outbreak.
A 24-hour control room helpline has been activated to address queries regarding the Nipah infection and to aggregate efforts of the contact tracing exercise. The number is 0495-2382500, 2382800.
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