Covid-19 Culture Educational Health International Legal Nation Science

Centre rushes high-level team to the state to take steps against UAE returnee’s first monkey pox victim

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state of Kerala reported the first case of monkeypox in the country in a 35-year-old man who returned from UAE on July 12, prompting the Centre to rush a high-level multi-disciplinary team to collaborate with the State Health Authorities in instituting public health measures.

The case was confirmed through the testing of the samples of the symptomatic person at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, Health Minister Veena George said.

He is a native of Kollam. He is currently undergoing treatment at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. His close contact including his parents and two drivers have been isolated, said George on Thursday.

All samples of the infected person have been tested positive, she said, confirming the country’s first case of the rare virus.

As many as 11 people who sat close to the patient on the flight have been informed of the viral infection.

All measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the disease, the minister said, adding there was no cause for concern.

The patient was already symptomatic when he landed in Thiruvananthapuram. He approached a private hospital in Kollam and they referred him to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. His sample sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune came out to be positive on Thursday evening.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a statement, too said there was no cause for concern presently and said just like the spread of covid-19 was checked, monkeypox can also be contained.

Vijayan added the patient was kept in isolation after he began showing signs of the disease and those who were in contact with him are being closely observed.

Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and monkeypox is rarely fatal. The symptoms include formation of blisters along with fever. The virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids or respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox cases have been reported in 57 countries including USA, Canada, Australia, European countries, Africa etc infecting over 8000 people.

The minister said the cabin crew of the flight has also been informed about the case.

She said after reaching his home in Kollam, the man had visited a private hospital there.

He was referred to the Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram where the doctors suspected he was showing symptoms of monkeypox.

His samples were collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune for testing, George said.

The Health department advised everyone to be cautious and vigilant.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is sending a high-level multi-disciplinary team to Kerala to collaborate with the State Health Authorities in instituting public health measures in view of the confirmed case of monkeypox in Kollam district, a Press Information Bureau release said.

The central team will comprise experts drawn from the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr.

RML Hospital, New Delhi and a senior official from the Ministry of Health along with experts from the Regional Office of Health and Family Welfare, Kerala, the release said.

“The team shall work closely with the State Health Department and take stock of on-ground situations and recommend necessary public health interventions.

The Government of India is taking proactive steps by monitoring the situation carefully and coordinating with states in case of any such possibility of outbreak,” it said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.

With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health.

Earlier in the day, the Centre asked states to ensure screening and testing of all suspect cases at points of entry and in the community as part of India’s preparedness against the disease.

In its advisory that came amid rise in such cases globally, the government of India also asked the states and Union Territories to identify hospitals and ensure adequate human resources and logistic support to manage any suspect or confirmed monkeypox case.