Nipah virus alert: UAE asks residents to avoid Kerala trips

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The UAE on Thursday asked travellers to postpone unnecessary trips to Kerala till the Nipah virus outbreak in the south Indian state becomes under control.

In a media statement, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) alerted people travelling to Kerala to be aware of the possibility of contracting the infection and advised them to postpone unnecessary travel till the situation will be controlled.

“The ministry works with its strategic partners to assess the risk of importation of Nipah virus (NiV) cases to the country and put the necessary control measures. Also, Mohap is in continuous coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to implement the global recommendations,” read the statement.

In a statement Dubai-based airline, Emirates said that they are monitoring the situation closely. The statement read:

“Emirates is aware of recent Nipah cases reported in the state of Kerala, India. The safety of our passengers and crew will always be our top priority, and we are monitoring the situation closely. With regards to preventive or other measures, we will take guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international bodies. At this time, there are no recommended actions for airlines.

Reports indicate that the Nipah cases originated in, and are currently contained in the area around Kozhikode, a northern district of Kerala. We do not operate to Kozhikode. The closest airport that Emirates operates to, is Kochi, which is about 5.5 hours drive to the south.”

While the WHO has not issued any specific advice to countries – including the UAE – that have not been affected by the Nipah virus (NiV), it has asked them to enhance level of preparedness.

On Wednesday, the UAE had urged its citizens in India to exercise caution and abide by the instructions of Indian authorities following the outbreak of the Nipah virus in Kerala.

The UAE Consulate in Kerala urged Emiratis to register with the Twajudi service, and to contact consulate in the case of an emergency on 00919087777737 or on 80044444.

NiV infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. Symptoms of the disease include:

  • Breathing trouble
  • Brain swelling
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness, disorientation and delirium
  • A patient can fall into a coma within 48 hours.

The disease travels through direct contact with a patient. There is no vaccine for the virus yet and main treatment for those infected is intensive supportive care.

The Kerala state government on Wednesday also asked travellers to avoid visiting four northern districts of the state.

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An advisory issued by state health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan stated that travelling to any part of Kerala was safe. But if travellers wished to be extra cautious, they could avoid the four districts Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur, it said.

“A few cases of infection by nipah virus have been reported from Kozhikode district in Kerala. The infection remains highly localised, all cases being linked to one family,” the advisory said.

Published on 24 May 2018

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