Amid concerns of identifying a cluster of Zika virus in the capital city, five more people, including four women, have tested positive for the infection in Kerala, taking the caseload in the state to 28.
Of the fresh cases, two were natives of Anayara, where a cluster of the disease had been identified within a three-kilometre radius, Health Minister Veena George said on Thursday.
The other infected people were those hailing from East Fort, Kunnukuzhi and Pattom and all the samples were tested at the National Virology Institute at Alappuzha, she said.
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Four samples were sent from a private hospital, while one was collected by the Health Department as part of surveillance, the minister said, adding that16 other samples tested negative.
"With this, the total number of infections in the state rose to 28," she added.
Meanwhile, George, after a joint meeting of health and local self-government departments (LSGD) in view of the virus spread, said there are only eight active Zika cases, three of them pregnant women, in the state at present.
"The outbreak of the virus is reported only in Thiruvananthapuram and not in any other districts so far. We have decided toincrease testing across the state," she told reporters after the meeting.
The minister also said pregnant women should take test immediately if they have any symptom of fever or any rashes over the body.
Prevention activities would be intensified by preparing a micro plan, she said.
The meeting, also attended by LSGD Minister M Govindan Master, decided to coordinate the activities of both the departments to prevent the Zika spread.
Both George and Govindan Master directed the officials concerned to be vigilant not only in the capital district but also all over the state.
Stating that thrust should be given to eradication of mosquito sources and fogging, they said medicines for this would be made available to the local bodies through hospitals.
The Health Department had said on Wednesday that a cluster of Zika virus was identified within a three-km radius of Anayara and steps were being taken for extermination of mosquitoes in the area to prevent its spread to other places.
They said a control room had been set up at the district medical office in the wake of the Zika outbreak in the capital city, where all 23 cases were reported.