Nipah virus outbreak: Authorities warn of action if buses, autos refuse ride to hospital staff

The motor vehicles department here has warned bus and autorickshaw owners of strict action if they decline hospital staff a ride fearing Nipah virus. After Lini Puthuserry, a nurse of Perambra taluk hospital, died of Nipah virus after contracting it from some patients being treated there, autorickshaws and buses were reportedly refusing to transport the hospital staff. Perambra is the epicentre of the virus outbreak, which has claimed 12 lives in the state so far. Taking a serious view of issue, Deputy Transport Commissioner Mohammed Najeeb directed the Kohzikode regional transport officer to take steps to ensure that patients, bystanders and hospital staff are not put to any inconvenience. The recommended action includes cancellation of permits of the vehicles. According to sources, action will be taken against bus owners and employees if they failed to comply with the directive. Meanwhile, Perambra Taluk Hospital sources said now things are slowing improving for them and they are not being isolated. Infact, autorickshaws were plying with flex boards stating that they were prepared to give rides to hospital staff and patients round the clock. After Linis death, the hospital staff, especially nurses, were in a state of shock and they had been counselled by doctors of Kozhikode Medical College Hospital, the source told PTI. State Labour Minister T P Ramakrishnan, along with CPI(M) activists, visited various homes in Perambra and informed the people that there was no need to panic, but they need to be alert. Pamphlets were also distributed. A Union Health Ministry advisory has said that Nipah virus, which commonly affects animals such as bats, pigs, dogs, and horses, can spread to humans, causing serious illness. Spread of the virus to humans may occur after close contact with other Nipah-infected people, infected bats, or infected pigs.