Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said on Wednesday the outbreak of Nipah virus (NiP), which has claimed 10 lives, had been contained and there was no need to panic.

As many as 17 people are being treated at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. The disease has been confined to Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.

With the deaths due to Nipah spreading panic, the Kerala Police on Wednesday asked people not to circulate fake news and rumours. The police have warned that criminal cases will be registered against people who spread fake messages.

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In a press release, the police said, “Creation of fake or false messages, spreading them to cause panic or public disorder are criminal acts and liable for investigation and prosecution. Those who forward such messages in the social media will also face investigation and prosecution.”

Shailaja also asked people not to panic as the virus has now been contained. The minister, however, added that two new cases of patients with suspected NiV and fever were reported in Kozhikode and they were under observation.

“The entire expenditure of these patients would be borne by the state and there need not be any panic over bats. The government is awaiting the supply of ribavirin, a drug that’s commonly used for treating similar cases,” she said.

Meanwhile, two cases of suspected Nipah virus infection have been reported from Mangaluru. One patient is a 20-year-old woman from Kasargod and the other patient is a 75-year-old man from Mangaluru.

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After presiding over the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased.

“We have also decided to give a government job to the husband of the nurse Lini who died after attending to Nipah virus patients in Perambra in Kozhikode,” he said.

“Their two children will be given Rs 5 lakh each,” a statement issued by Vijayan’s office said.

Transmission of Nipah virus takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or from other NiV-infected people.

Meanwhile, three teams of health experts deputed by the Centre are working in Kozhikode along with various teams of the state government, officials said.

(With agency inputs)