Nipah outbreak under control, but gulf countries ban products from Kerala

One more person suspected to be infected with the potentially deadly virus has tested negative
One more person suspected to be infected with the potentially deadly virus has tested negative

Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of India’s southern state of Kerala, on Tuesday (5) said that the spread of Nipah, which has so far claimed 16 lives in the state, is under control. But he wants people to be more alert.

“There is no alarming situation now. The spread of the virus has been controlled. But people should remain alert,” he said. So far, 244 samples have been tested for Nipah virus, out of which 18 were positive and 226 negative.

Although the situation is under control, several gulf countries are closely watching the situation and as a precautionary measure they have banned certain products from Kerala. On Tuesday it was announced that Saudi Arabia has banned frozen and processed fruit and vegetable imports from Kerala. On May 29, the United Arab Emirates banned imports from Kerala.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention had also issued a travel advisory asking residents to avoid unnecessary travels to the state.

The main host of the disease is believed to be the fruit bat. According to reports, the virus is transmitted through secretions from the bat to the fruit. Dates, mangoes and bananas are the bat’s most preferred fruit.

Lini Puthussery remembered

Jim Campbell, the director of the health workforce, WHO, remembered Lini Puthussery, the nurse who contracted Nipah Virus from one of the patients she had taken care of, in a tweet on June 3.

“Remember them, lest we forget: Razan al-Najjar (Gaza); Lini Puthussery (India); Salome Karwah (Liberia),” he wrote in his tweet.

Lini was taking care of Mohammad Sadik, believed to be the first victim of the virus, when she developed fever and finally succumbed to it. Her family was not allowed to cremate her  even though his samples were never sent to labs for testing. Lini developed a fever just days after Sadik passed away.

Lini was kept in the isolation ward and buried soon after her death. Her family was not allowed to cremate her body as officials feared spread of the virus.

On her last day, Lini had written a letter to her husband, asking him to take care of their children.

“I think I am almost on my way; I don’t think I’ll be able to meet you. Please look after our children. Take them with you to the Gulf; don’t be all alone like our father, please,” her letter read.