Former Health Minister and senior ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist MLA K K Shailaja says Kerala has nothing to worry about the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode as the situation is not as scary as it was in 2018.
Shailaja, who had won accolades for containing the Nipah infection effectively in 2018, said the southern state has a protocol and standard operating procedure (SOP) to effectively fight the infection and prevent its spread.
She was the Health minister in the previous LDF government, which fought the first Nipah outbreak in the state.
"In 2018, it was a new virus to us, and we did not have any experience battling such an infection. Now, we have everything in place to contain it effectively," Shailaja told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
She said Nipah testing facilities have been established in the state but the declaration of virus infection can only be made by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
"We have the facility. We tried it out during the first bout in 2018 at Kozhikode. But the declaration can only be made by NIV, Pune," the senior CPI(M) MLA said.
She said during the COVID-19 outbreak, the state government had taken special permission from the central government to declare COVID results from the virology lab at Alappuzha.
The central team visited Alappuzha, did the test themselves, and permitted Kerala to release the results, the former health minister said.
"When COVID spread got to its peak, we got permission to conduct the tests at the Medical College labs and to release the results. As far as Nipah is concerned, we can release the results only if we get special permission from the central government," Shailaja said.
The brain-damaging virus has killed two people and infected three others in Kozhikode district.
On Wednesday, a 24-year old health worker became Kerala's fifth confirmed Nipah case since its recent outbreak.
Out of the three infected persons under treatment, the condition of a nine-year-old boy continues to remain critical, and the government has ordered monoclonal antibodies from ICMR.
It is the only available anti-viral treatment for Nipah virus infection, though it has not been clinically proven yet.