Six people suspected of Nipah infection in Kerala have tested negative, the state government said, in a relief for the state where 17 people succumbed to the deadly disease last year.

The six were hospitalized earlier this week with symptoms for Nipah. Of them, five were in close contact with the 23-year-old student who tested positive.

“Five people who were in contact with the patient, and another who was not in contact but showed Nipah-like symptoms, were undergoing treatment. All six of them tested negative for Nipah virus tests today," state health minister K.K. Shailaja said, citing a report from the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.

“Two of them are nurses who attended the Nipah-infected patient. Another one is a nursing assistant. The other two were in touch with the patient," said Shailaja. “There is now a situation where we can believe that the disease has not spread on a massive scale in the state. This is a relief."

The minister, however, said the state government will continue to closely monitor the situation.

On Thursday, two patients were isolated in a medical college in Thiruvananthapuram after reporting high fever.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday reviewed the status of the disease. “We are taking all necessary measures, there is no need to panic," the minister said.

“One positive case admitted in Aster Medicity Cheranelloor, Ernakulam is now conscious and having mild fever," a ministry statement said, referring to the 23-year-old. “A total of 316 contacts are being followed up on daily basis. The six symptomatic contacts have been admitted in quarantine facility at Medical College and all six samples were found to be negative for Nipah virus as per reports of NIV Pune. Three contacts are now afebrile. Sample from one symptomatic contact is being sent to NIV Lab," a ministry statement said.

The Strategic Health Operation Centre (SHOC) at National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been activated from 4 June and is coordinating activities for Nipah containment. Till date, it has received 40 calls regarding Nipah information. A District Control Room has been set up in the Ernakulam collector’s office (Helpline No. 04842425200).

“Joint Commissioner (Livestock Health) has deployed two experts to Ernakulum, Kerala to support local Animal Husbandry Department in the investigation. On the basis of the epidemiological investigation, team from NIV Pune and Animal Husbandry are investigating bats and other animals in the vicinity of his (confirmed case) residence during the possible time of transmission of infection," the statement said.

The condition of the patient who tested positive for Nipah has improved, Mint reported Wednesday, citing doctor Anup R. Warrier.

“He has fever, but it has come down. His brain involvement is affecting balance and memories, but has not turned into a fit or resulted in the patient losing. So his brain involvement has not deteriorated. This is what we mean by saying the patient is stable. These are positive signs," the doctor said.

Nipah has no vaccine, has a mortality rate of 70%, and killed 17 people in Kerala last year, setting off panic in the state. But it is possible for people to survive Nipah, Warrier added. “In Malaysia and Singapore, four out of 10 people died, while Bangladesh and Calicut eight out of 10 died. Still, in the first, six people survived and in the second, two to three survived. So definitely, people can survive Nipah."

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