Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Confirms UAE Returnee Who Died, Had Monkeypox

The 22-year-old man, who returned to Kerala from the UAE, reportedly died due to the disease on 30 July.

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Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Confirms UAE Returnee Who Died, Had Monkeypox

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday, 1 August, that a man who died recently in the state after returning from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had in fact tested positive for monkeypox.

"It has been confirmed that the youth who died was infected with Monkeypox. This is confirmed by the Virology lab in Pune's lab report," Vijayan said.

Earlier, the state's Health Minister Veena George had also confirmed that the man had tested positive for monkeypox.

"Health department will probe further into the case. High level committee of state medical board has been constituted for investigation into this case. NIV Pune's report states that the virus was West African variant. Further testing is being done," Vijayan added.

The man died on 30 July. As per protocol, 20 people who were considered to be at high risk were kept under observation, including family members, friends and medical staff who may have come in contact with the deceased.

Also, there were 165 people on the aircraft, none of whom were in close contact with him.

"As per WHO, Union Health Ministry and State Health department's guidelines the incubation period of the virus is 21 days. The 165 people on the flight should report symptoms if they develop the same," the CM added.

The chief minister also said that the man's relatives had revealed the result of his test conducted in the UAE on 19 July only on 30 July.

"Shortly after a team from the health department reached the hospital. By that time he was in critical condition," the CM added.

Centre Sets Up Task Force To Monitor Monkeypox Spread

Following the man's death, the Centre had formed a task force to closely monitor the emerging situation in the country and frame response initiatives to tackle the spread of the virus.

Additionally, the Kerala government said that although only ten people had been in direct contact with the deceased, 20 have been quarantined so far as a precautionary measure.

"The situation is well under control, there's no panic here as of now," a member of the Education and Health Standing Committee, Renjini, told news agency ANI.

Headed by NITI Aayog member (health) V K Paul, the newly formed central task force will guide the government on expansion of diagnostic facilities and vaccination.

India has reported a total of four confirmed cases of monkeypox so far, including three from Kerala and one from Delhi.

The 22-year-old, who died on 30 July, had recently returned to Kerala's Thrissur district from the UAE. The two other patients from Kerala are also under observation and their health condition is said to be satisfactory.

Karnataka Govt Issues Circular Involving Enhanced Surveillance, Contact Tracing

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government issued a circular to check the spread of the disease, which involves enhanced surveillance and mandatory contact tracing.

"As a precautionary measure to check the spread of #monkeypox infection, a circular has been issued to BBMP and all District administrations regarding enhanced surveillance, designated institutional isolation facilities, mandatory contact tracing and testing of samples," said Karnataka Health Minister Sudhakar K.

Globally, over 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported from 75 countries. The symptoms following the disease usually last for two to four weeks. According to the World Health Organization, the case fatality ratio associated with the virus stands at around 3-6 percent.

After 2003, monkeypox outbreaks began to be reported again in 2018 from countries including the United States, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom. But this year on, the virus has begun to make an appearance in many non-endemic countries as well.

Kerala Conducting 'High-Level Enquiry' Into Death

The young man, who had returned to Kerala on 21 July, was admitted to a private hospital on 27 July, after he developed encephalitis and fever, besides which his lymph nodes were swollen.

However, Kerala Health Minister Veena George told The News Minute on 31 July, that the patient did not have any rashes on his body, and hence, the doctors saw no reason to suspect that he was suffering from monkeypox infection.

It was revealed only after his death that he had tested positive for the monkeypox virus in Ras Al-Khaimah on 19 July, just before his return to Kerala, the minister said. His samples have now been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha for confirmation, she added.

George further said that there will be a "high level enquiry" into the death, adding that the reason for delay in seeking treatment will also be investigated.

“This particular variant of monkeypox is not highly virulent or contagious like COVID-19, but it does spread. Comparatively, the mortality rate of this variant is low. Therefore, we will examine why the 22-year-old man died in this particular case as he had no other illness or health problems,” the minister told the media.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI, NDTV, and The News Minute.)

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