September 23, 2023

“We can conduct surveillance at a remote village and gather information,” Mansukh Mandaviya said.

New Delhi:

The Nipah virus spreads much slower than Covid and unlike Covid, it spreads through a vector, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told NDTV today. A treatment protocol is there and once the tests are done and the disease is identified, the treatment can progress fast, he added.

Five cases of Nipah virus have surfaced in Kerala. Two people have died and the other three, including a nine-year-old boy, are undergoing treatment. The boy is critical and on ventilator support.

Asked about the new disease triggering fresh panic in view of the pandemic the world went through four years ago, the minister told NDTV in an exclusive interview: “I’d like to assure that Covid taught us many things including our weaknesses and has led to better surveillance systems.”

The government, he said, has set up such a system now that information of any outbreak — even from a remote village — can reach the Central command system immediately. “We can conduct surveillance at a remote village and gather information,” he said.

Part of the reason is the district laboratories the government is setting up at every district, he said. The government has spent Rs 100 crore in each district setting up labs for testing which will be done for free.  

“We are setting up this system across the country, so the Centre is informed immediately… genome sequencing is done and the information comes to the command centre,” he said.

Speaking of the current outbreak, he said, “Today at a village in Kozhikode there is the Nipah virus outbreak. It came into out notice immediately, and we took action immediately. Our teams went, the SOP was implemented and the state and Centre took action. We will do whatever needed to ensure there are no new cases,” he added.

“I’d like to assure the country that the Narendra Modi government is taking care of the country’s health sector in a very thorough and careful manner,” he added.

The virus, spread through vectors like bats and pigs, causes fever, respiratory distress, headaches, and vomiting, There is no vaccine to prevent or cure the infection. The treatment involves supportive care.

The Kerala government has declared seven villages in Kozhikode district — Atanchery, Maruthonkara, Tiruvallur, Kuttiyadi, Kayakkodi, Villyapalli, and Kavilumpara — have been declared containment zones. Essential items are being delivered to those in isolation.  

The state has formed 19 core committees to coordinate the measures to contain the spread of the virus.

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