A 100 cases of swine flu have been detected in a day in Rajasthan, where the disease has cost 100 lives since the beginning of this year. Official figures said 100 cases were detected across the state yesterday - 9 people have died over the last 48 hours. Alarmed by the spike, the government has started a mammoth screening drive.
Rajasthan accounts for nearly 70% of swine flu cases - while more than 6,000 cases have been reported from across the country, 2,793 of these are from Rajasthan. Of the 225-plus people dead, 100 are from Rajasthan
Doctors say swine flu has been spreading fast this year mainly because of the prolonged wet, chilly winter. The spells of hailstorm and rain helps the influenza virus breed and spread.
Besides, flu outbreaks are cyclical. The numbers go down every alternate year as the community develops immunity against infections.
Last year, Rajasthan recorded 1,088 cases of swine flu, which spreads through infected droplets, much like the common cold.
The state's health minister, Raghu Sharma, said the government is taking measures to stop the spread of the disease, which includes screening at crowded places.
"The population of Rajasthan is about 7 crore, and we have screened 1 crore people... It is an ongoing process and we have also taken measures at crowded places like bus stands and railway stations," Mr Sharma said. (WHAT measures and what are being done about the affected people?)
But what's proving to be a challenge for the government is to get swine flu patients to hospitals in time. With only 12 labs in the state -- eight in government hospitals and four in private hospitals -- equipped to scan for swine flu, people are being sent from district hospitals to big cities like Jaipur for treatment. The government is urgently looking at opening more labs for swine flu testing.
"Very soon, we will have testing in all district headquarters. We are looking at different technologies and machines, which can be faster. At the moment, it takes 8-9 hours, but there are machines which can conduct the test in 55 minutes," said health secretary Rohit Singh.