The Kerala government today stepped up vigil against the Nipah virus that has claimed 16 lives in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, even as staffers of a taluk hospital at Balussery have been asked to go on leave as a precautionary measure. All meetings, scheduled to be held in the two districts this month have been postponed, until further notice, an official said. People have been asked to be extremely alert. Even though there has been no positive cases today, six persons got admitted to the Kozhikode medical college with symptoms of the virus, an official said. Of the 203 samples tested for Nipah, there have been 18 positive cases, of whom 16 persons have lost their lives. There is one unconfirmed death and 17 suspected nipah casesare under observation, according to the official. The Public Service Commission has postponed all its written and online exams, scheduled to be held, till June 16. New dates will be announced later. Reopening of schools in the two districts had earlier been postponed to June 5. Health authorities have drawn up a list of 1949 people who had come in contact with the Nipah affected persons to monitor their health condition. A control room has been opened at the Kozhikode medical college which will regularly contact them to know about their health conditions, the official said. Doctors and nurses of the Balussery Taluk hospital in Kozhikode district have been asked to go on leave as a precautionary measure after two nipah affected persons, who were treated at the hospital initially, succumbed to the virus. To check further spread of the virus, directions have been given to officials to observe and monitor all those persons who had come in touch with the Nipah patients and are likely to be affected. Since there is a possibility of the virus entering the second phase, in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, government has stepped up preventive measures and asked people to be alert, Health Minister K K Shylaja said. The central experts from the National Centre for Disease Control are continuing to evaluate the situation and taking necessary measures, said a press release quoting the minister. Besides, a team of doctors from the Manipal and Thiruvananthapuram Medical colleges are also evaluating the situation. The Director of Health Services Dr Sarita R L is camping in Kozhikode and coordinating with the various agencies, the release said. "The health department had earlier itself evaluated that there was a possibility that those who had come in contact with the Nipah affected patients, could be affected by the virus in the second phase and preventive measures have been taken," the minister said. Until the Nipah virus is fully under control, the team under the Health director, which is monitoring the situation, would be retained. Elaborate arrangements have been made at the Kozhikode medical college to observe suspected nipah cases and 80 rooms have been set apart for them. Intensive care units with ventilator facilities will also be made available, the release said. Necessary protective gears, including masks and gloves, have been provided to the hospital staff. Eighteen positive cases of Nipah virus were reported in Kerala since its outbreak in May. Of the affected, 16 have died. Two persons are undergoing treatment in a hospital and their condition was improving, which was a matter of relief, the minister said. Large-scale awareness campaigns are also being held in the two districts. The Kozhikode district collector has filed a report before the Kerala High Court on the situation in the district following the virus outbreak. After a superintendent of Kozhikode district court complex died due to Nipah, the district bar association had asked the authorities to stop the functioning of the district court for the time being. Kozhikode district authorities have asked people to keep away from crowds as a precautionary measure.