With 11 fresh swine flu cases on Thursday, Delhi recorded the highest number of new infections in a day, taking its tally to 179.
Of the 11 cases, six were children, between the ages of 7 and 14 years, and one — a 25-year-old man — contracted the virus while travelling.
“Panic is high because children are getting infected from their friends. No one wants to take any risk when it comes to children, which is what is making parents bring their child for testing at the slightest hint of fever,” said Dr N.K. Chaturvedi, Medical Superintendent at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, one of the nodal centres for testing for swine flu.
“The infection is still localised and limited to close contacts. Awareness is high, which is why people are coming forward to get tested,” said Delhi’s Health Minister Kiran Walia.
A common flu outbreak coupled with panic is driving people with fever to government hospitals in droves to get themselves tested for swine flu — or the influenza A (H1N1) virus.
On Thursday, 211 people — 195 adults and 16 children — turned up at RML hospital within seven hours, the highest so far. Of them, only 33 needed testing and five needed to be admitted to hospital.
“The panic reaction started around the time infections started in schools a week ago. Last week, we were getting about 50 inquiries a day,” said Dr Chaturvedi.
“Having read and watched so much about swine flu on news channels, I did not want to take any chances with my son who got fever last night,” said Mahika Pandey, at RML with her 12-year-old son.
Health ministry officials reiterate the fact that there is no need to panic.
“It is nothing unexpected. We were expecting people to turn up at hospitals in large numbers following the spread of viral fever, as the symptoms are quite similar,” said Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary, Union Ministry of Health.
11 Suspected cases in Gurgaon
Eleven suspected cases of swine flu — including six children — were reported in Gurgaon on Thursday.
“Gurgaon has reported 26 cases, with the reports of seven pending with the National Centers for Disease Control,” said Gurgaon district magistrate Rajender Kataria said.