Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 2: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Saturday said Kerala need not worry about the Nipah virus as the state is absolutely safe from it now. Samples of fruit bats sent from Kozhikode to National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases have tested negative, reported ANI. Earlier samples of cattle, goats, pigs, insect bats were also tested negative.

State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran was quoted as saying by IANS that Kerala was indeed a safe destination as around 300 doctors arrived in Kerala from various parts of India for the IMA conference to be held at Kovalam.

IMA President Ravi Wankedekar, who is in the capital city for the IMA conference, said that the virus outbreak does not hold any threat. “Around 300 doctors arriving in the state itself shows that the virus isn’t a threat at all,” he added.

State Health Minister KK Shailaja complimented the medical teams of the Centre, state and the private sectors for effectively containing the outbreak. “Of the 18 positive cases, 16 have died and the remaining two are recovering well at the Kozhikode hospital. In all we had sent 193 samples of which 175 were negative. Almost 2,000 people have been reported to have come in contact with the affected and this figure might go up. Things are in control, but we have to be very careful” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, anxious moments were witnessed when it was wrongly reported that a 38-year-old woman had died in Kannur district due to the Nipah virus. However, soon other reports surfaced that she had died of other causes and did not carry the Nipah virus.

Meanwhile, the people in Kozhikode district are taking extra precautions even after the state government’s assurance that the situation is under control. Residents can be seen wearing masks while stepping out. The businesses and market places in the city are witnessing lesser footfall whereas, some movie theatres have downed the shutters as a measure of safety.

The deadly Nipah virus has claimed 16 lives in the region so far. Two other positive cases are undergoing treatment at the Kozhikode hospital.