THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The fresh outbreak of the Nipah virus (NiV) at a time when the state is facing a heightened Covid spread has raised concerns. However, health experts say the spread of Nipah can be checked by following the Covid protocol, which has become a part of life for almost one-and-a-half years.
Wearing facemask, sanitising hands and maintaining social distancing can give protection from both Covid and Nipah, they say.
While Nipah -- with a high mortality rate -- is more dangerous compared to Covid, it does not spread fast like Covid. Hence, experts are calling for more vigilance. At the same time, they stressed that there is no cause for unnecessary fear.
“With the protocol in pace, the chances of spread are lower during Covid. If there is spread, it means that the protocol has been compromised,” said Dr Althaf A, epidemiologist and associate professor at the Government Medical College Hospital, Manjeri.
He has conducted extensive studies on the 2018 Nipah outbreak in the state. The government dealt with the first outbreak by imposing travel restrictions in six districts. It was later reduced to two districts. The health department also made a contact list of 3,000 people. But none of them turned positive for Nipah though there were positive cases and deaths from outside that list.
“People should be vigilant during an outbreak. But putting curbs blindly is ineffective. Closing down roads to restrict the movement of people is totally unscientific,” said Dr Althaf. He stressed on the need to adopt scientific ways to contain the infection.
Internal medicine specialist and public health activist Dr N M Arun said it is better to avoid imposing curbs, affecting the life of people.“Nipah has lower potential to spread from human to human. That’s the reason why only fewer people were infected during the previous outbreaks,” he said.
It is widely assumed that animals, fruit-eating bats or even domestic animals pass on the infection to the humans although the experts are yet to find a clear link. However, fear-mongering has resulted in people avoiding fruits in Kerala. There was even a ban of fruit exports from the state by countries in the Middle East. “We need to be careful about the use of fruits or while dealing with animals. But fruit can be eaten by cutting off the damaged part even if it is eaten by a bat. Similarly, the milk of goat can be consumed by boiling it,” said Dr Althaf.
Dist reports 2,103 new Covid cases
T’Puram: The district on Sunday reported 2,103 fresh Covid cases. The test positivity rate (TPR) stood at 14.4 percent which is lower than the state average of 17.17. Seven deaths were reported in the district in the last 24 hours. As many as 1,876 patients recovered from the infection on the day. A total of 17,322 patients are still under treatment in the district.