Nipah Virus: Kozhikode district schools reopening postponed till June 12

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Noting that all those in contact with the affected are still in the incubating period of the virus and hence utmost caution has to be maintained, Shailaja, in the statement, underlined that even though there need be no fear or panic, as a matter of caution, all possible precautionary steps should be taken.

Lauding the doctors in Kerala who had been prompt enough to spot the virus as soon as it appeared, Dr Wankedekar said that the Kerala government and the healthcare agencies did a great job by putting up resistance to the virus. Earlier samples of cattle, goats, pigs, insect bats were also tested negative. Two other outbreaks of the virus were reported in 2001 and 2007, respectively, in eastern state of West Bengal, claiming 50 lives.

Moreover, aforementioned institutions in Wayanad, Kannur, and Malappuram districts would remain closed till June 5, as opposed to the initial reopening on June 1.

District Collector of the state has been instructed to submit a status report on June 6.

Several staffers, including nurses and four doctors, of the Balussery taluk hospital in Kozhikode district were asked to go on leave on Friday.

In the morning, the death of a 39-year-old woman, Roja, who showed symptoms of the virus, gave a scare. "But anyone who has been in contact with patients needs to get themselves admitted if they are showing any symptoms", said KK Shylaja, the Health Minister of the state assuring that the state was prepared for the expected second round of infections.

So far, a total of 196 samples have been tested for Nipah, of which 18 tested positive.

The MoPH has also issued a circular to all the communication officers at all the hospitals and health centres across Qatar on the standard definition of the suspected cases and the mechanism of dealing with them in accordance with the guidelines for fighting infection to guarantee a speedy report of any suspected case.

Schools and classrooms were decorated with colourful banners, ribbons and balloons as teachers welcomed children with paper crowns, candies and flowers as part of the "Enrolment Festival" held in various schools to welcome the children, reports received here said.

Experts from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - the apex body in the country for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research - will be reaching here on Monday and the antibody would be administered only if it was necessary.

The ICMR had written to the Queensland government in Australia asking it to provide the antibody developed there to test if it can neutralise the virus in humans.