The Kerala government on Wednesday said the condition of the college student being treated at a private hospital in Kochi for Nipah virus is stable while six others have been kept under watch at a local government medical college hospital.
Authorities have scrambled to trace the source of the potentially deadly virus which resurfaced in the state a year after it struck two north Kerala districts, claiming 17 lives.
A total of 314 people from various districts are currently under observation, a government bulletin said on Wednesday.
According to the bulletin, of the 314, six people have been shifted to the isolation ward of the medical college hospital.
"The condition of the student is stable. It has not turned worse," state Health Minister K K Shailaja said, a day after the 23-year-old student was confirmed to be infected with the Nipah virus.
An official in the private hospital where the student is being treated also said his condition was stable.
"He is conscious. He is taking food," the official said.
A medical bulletin said there was enough stock of rebavirin medicine for treating the disease. Other medical equipment required for treatment have also been made available, it said.
"All situations in the state arising out of Nipah are under control," it said.
The bulletin said samples collected from the six people, currently being treated at the isolation ward of Kalamassery medical college hospital, have been sent to the National Institute of Virology at Pune and a government lab in Alappuzha.
Earlier in the day, the minister said thepreliminary assessment of the health of five of them showed that they were not "in a severe condition."
"Their health now is better than yesterday. But they are under constant watch of doctors. We expect tests of their blood samples would be negative.
But we should wait till the final results come," Shailaja, who is constantly monitoring the situation with medical experts and top health officials, said.
The sixth man was shifted to the isolation ward later Wednesday.
The minister said treatment for Nipah will start only if their blood test confirm they have contracted the infectious disease.
The results are expected by Thursday evening.
"We should be very careful till the completion of the incubation period of the virus," she said.
At present, they were being treated for fever and sore throat, said the minister.
On Tuesday, the government prepared a list of 311 people, who had interacted with the student, and kept them under medical observation.
According to the World Health Organisation, the incubation period (interval from infection to the onset of symptoms) is believed to range from 4 to 14 days.
The minister said a review meeing chaired by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will be held at district headquarters on Thursday.
She said officials have launched efforts to trace the source of the deadly virus.
Tracing the source of the virus would be a difficult task, the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Ernakulam district administration said schools in the district will be opened on Thursday after the two-month long vacation.
Precautionary measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the disease in the district, district collector Muhammed Y Safirulla said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Kerala police warned that stringent action would be taken against those who spread false information through social media.
The Kochi city police have registered cases against three people for allegedly spreading false news through social media, a senior police official said.
Hailing from North Paravur in Ernakulam, the 23-year-old is studying in a college in Thodupuzha in Idukki district.
The student, who was suffering from fever, had gone to Thrissur district with a group of students to attend a training programme.
The government has urged people not to panic and take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
The administration has launched an awareness campaign through the media to meet the challenge.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had also spoken to Shailaja Tuesday to discuss the situation and assured all support from the Centre to the state.
A control room has also been set up and the Strategic Health Operations Centre of the National Centre for Disease Control has been activated, phone number for which is 011-23978046, a health ministry statement said in New Delhi.
According to state government figures, the Nipah virus had claimed 17 lives -- 14 in Kozhikode and three in neighbouring Malappuram in May last year.