The Nipah virus has killed two people and infected two others in Kerala's Kozhikode district, the state government said on Tuesday.
'Nipah virus infection has been confirmed in Kozhikode district. Two people died due to infections. Of the four people whose saliva was sent for testing, two were Nipah positive and two were Nipah negative,' Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Facebook post.
The chief minister urged people not to panic and to take precaution instead.
'Everyone should strictly follow the instructions of the health department and the police and fully cooperate with the restrictions, he said.
Talking to reporters in Kozhikode after receiving confirmation from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, where the samples were sent for testing, state Health Minister Veena George said one of the people who was infected with the virus is a nine-year-old boy.
George said out of the five samples, three have tested positive.
"The samples of the person who died yesterday and two others under treatment, including the nine-year-old boy, have tested positive," she said.
The death of the first person, on August 30, was initially considered a death due to the comorbidity of liver cirrhosis, she said.
"However, his son, the nine-year-old boy who is already in ICU, and his 24-year-old brother-in-law are the two positive cases that were detected today," the minister said.
The sample of the person who died yesterday also tested positive.
The minister added that two epicentres of the disease have been identified, which will soon be declared as containment zones by the district collector after following due procedure.
The man who died on August 30 was 44 years old, while the person who died on Monday as a 40-year-old man.
The health department has also found out that the deceased persons were together in a private hospital for almost one hour at a particular point of time and as of now, there are no other points of contact for them other than that.
"As of now, it is understood that the index case is the man who died on August 30. Because his nine-year-old son and his brother-in-law have now tested positive," she said.
A massive contact tracing exercise has already begun, she added.
The health department has identified 168 contacts among the two deceased persons found infected with the Nipah virus.
The minister said that in the first case, 158 contacts were identified, out of which 127 were health workers and the rest were family or those from the locality of his residence.
In the second case, nearly 200 contacts were traced, out of which 10 have been identified along with their mobile numbers.
She said the control room and the call centre have started functioning, and asked people who experience any symptoms to contact the call centre, from where an ambulance for their transportation to the hospital will be arranged.
Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that the two deaths reported from Kerala's Kozhikode district were caused by the Nipah virus.