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Education Ministry cautions Bhutanese students against Nipah Virus in India

With the recent Nipah Virus outbreak in Kerala, India, the Ministry of Education (MoE), this week has notified all the Bhutanese students studying in India to be cautious of the recent outbreak of Nipah virus.

“Bhutanese students, particularly in India are advised to take necessary precautionary measures such as avoiding contact with infected people, eating of stale food, eating of meat especially pork and fruits,” states the ministry’s advisory notification.

According to the notification, there is no treatment and cure for this rare and deadly virus and the infection is fast spreading already claiming 13 lives since its outbreak in Kozhikode district of Kerala, India.

The ministry has also informed the students to seek immediate medical attention and update the ministry should they experience any signs of breathing difficulty, fever, headache and drowsiness.

“The Bhutanese Student’s Association presidents are requested to provide update on this to the Department of Adult and Higher Education on a regular basis,” added the notification.

According to World Health Organization, the Nipah virus was first identified in 1999 after an outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore and is transmitted by bats, pigs or other animals to human.

The virus, which has a mortality rate of up to 70%, can cause Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, as well as severe respiratory symptoms.

Meanwhile, the health minister, Tandin Wangchuk stated on his Facebook page that there is a hoax news spreading in Whatsapp and other social media about Nipah virus infection being spread in Shilong, Meghalaya, India.

He wrote, “We have confirmed that there are no cases reported from Shilong and Siliguri so far.”

Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk also shared that the Ministry of Health and WHO country office Bhutan are closely monitoring the situation in Kerala and other parts of India. Last week, the MoH informed the public that the ministry is closely monitoring the situation and urged the general public not to panic as the ministry has mechanisms in place to prevent, to detect and to respond to such a public health event.

Lucky Wangmo from Thimphu