Swine flu returns to haunt Delhi

New Delhi:  First, the good news - there have been no swine flu related deaths in Delhi over the last one week. But the bad news is that the problem is far from over. As many as 21 confirmed cases of swine flu were reported on February 10 in the national capital.

The Delhi government took stock of the situation at a meeting at the secretariat this afternoon. There are adequate medicines and testing facilities to treat patients and 22 hospitals are regularly reporting to the government with updates on the status of patients.

The state's Health Minister, Dr. A K Walia told reporters, "The situation is expected to improve with some help from the sun. More humidity and wet weather conditions help keep the virus alive."

However, it's not just Delhi. There has been an increase in number of cases of Influenza A H1N1 which are being reported from Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab.

The Union Health Ministry has said that the situation is well under control and is being monitored.

The desert state of Rajasthan continues to report the maximum number of cases. As per data from the ministry of health and family welfare, a total of 66 new cases were reported last week taking the total number of swine flu cases above the 350 mark to 358 confirmed cases so far this year. A total of 72 patients have died in Rajasthan from the beginning of this year.

Haryana has seen 42 new cases with four deaths in just the last one week while Punjab has seen five deaths in the same period with 19 new cases.

Rajasthan has seen the maximum number of cases in this year, including that of patients who could not survive. After Rajasthan, the states of Punjab and Haryana have seen a steady increase of cases this year.

The Health ministry says that in the post pandemic period, localised outbreaks are expected.
These outbreaks have been reported during:
  • August to October, 2010
  • May to July 2011
  • March and October 2012 and now in
  • January-February 2013
It also says that a large number of these cases would be presenting with mild influenza like illness and as such requires no testing or anti-viral drug treatment. The anti-viral drug Oseltamivir is available free of cost through the State public health system.

A central stockpile of about 5.5 million tablets of Oseltamivir is also maintained.

But the ministry also feels that since the virus is circulating within the country, there is no need to impose any travel restrictions or screening at inter-state point of entry, railway stations etc.

Doctors say that simple precautions will go a long way in keeping people safe from the flu, but if anyone feels that they show any of the symptoms, like high fever, breathlessness, sore throat, fatigue or respiratory problems, they must consult their local physicians as soon as possible.

With the Met department predicting another spell of rain closer to the weekend, citizens would be well advised to take simple precautions to keep the flu at bay.

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