Nipah virus resurfaces in India’s Kerala after killing 17 last year

Doctors and relatives wearing protective gear carry the body of a victim, who lost his battle against the brain-damaging Nipah virus, during his funeral at a burial ground in Kozhikode, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, India, May 24, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 June 2019

Nipah virus resurfaces in India’s Kerala after killing 17 last year

  • More than 100 people died in that outbreak that year, and about a million pigs were killed to try to halt its spread

NEW DELHI: The deadly brain-damaging Nipah virus has resurfaced in the southern Indian state of Kerala a year after it killed 17 people, state officials said on Tuesday.
A 23-year-old student tested positive for the virus, which is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or other people.
Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja told reporters that four other people had Nipah-like symptoms. Another 80 people were being monitored, including some who were in close contact with the student.
Shailaja said isolation wards had been set up across the state, where 19 cases were reported last year.
India’s national health and wildlife ministries are working to test and identify bats with the virus, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in New Delhi.
“There is no need for panic,” he told reporters.
There is no vaccine for the virus which can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It recommends treatment through supportive care.
Nipah is on the WHO’s research and development “priority pathogen” list alongside Ebola, Zika, MERS, Lassa and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
The virus was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak of illness affecting pig farmers and others in close contact with pigs in Malaysia and Singapore.
More than 100 people died in that outbreak that year, and about a million pigs were killed to try to halt its spread.


Iranian beauty queen seeks asylum in Philippines

Updated 10 min 39 sec ago

Iranian beauty queen seeks asylum in Philippines

  • Bahareh Zare Bahari has been detained at Manila airport on the basis of an Interpol “red notice” on a charge of assault

MANILA/AMMAN: An Iranian beauty queen is seeking asylum in the Philippines because she fears for her life in Tehran.

Bahareh Zare Bahari, who was Iran's entry at the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018, is in the custody of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration after she was intercepted at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport last week.

The bureau said she was barred from entering the Philippines because of an Interpol red notice due to an assault and battery case filed against her by a fellow Iranian. The incident is alleged to have happened in the Philippines. 

Bahareh Zare Bahari, Iran's representative to the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018. (Credit: Baharaeh's Facebook account)

Bahari denies any wrongdoing, saying the case against her was fake. She added that Tehran was targeting her for supporting an opposition politician, violating traditional values by taking part in beauty pageants and speaking for women’s rights.

In January she appeared at a pageant carrying a picture of Reza Pahlavi, an Iranian opposition leader and founder of the National Council of Iran.

“I used his photo in a beauty pageant and they are angry with me,” Bahari told Arab News during a phone interview. “If they (Philippines) deport me, they (Iran) will give me at least 25 years in jail, if they do not kill me.”

Bahari said she had travelled to the Philippines after a two-week vacation to Dubai, where she did not encounter any problems with immigration authorities. She was surprised when she was intercepted at the airport in Manila and informed that she was on an Interpol list.

Bahareh Zare Bahari, carrying the photo of Iranian opposition leader Reza Pahlavi during a beauty contest at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on Jan. 28, 2019. (Supplied photo)

Her lawyer had checked all records in the Philippines and with Interpol but there was no record against her, she added.

The beauty queen denied committing any crimes in Iran, or in the Philippines where she has been studying dentistry since 2014.

Media reports said Bahari was due to be deported to Iran on Monday but a Department of Justice official, Mark Perete, said she remained in the bureau’s custody and “could not be sent back to Iran because she has filed an application for asylum.”

The department would resolve her asylum application “in due time," he added.