The Union health ministry on Tuesday issued revised guidelines to deal with cases of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus.
According to the new guidelines, suspected cases of H1N1 will no longer have to stay in the hospital till the time their sample results are out.
Taking into account rise in cases of seasonal influenza, because of which the number of people reporting sick with flu-like symptoms has multiplied a great deal, the ministry realised it was not necessary to keep them all quarantined in the hospital, home quarantine can be equally effective, considering necessary precautions are taken.
“We have decided to introduce the option of home quarantine for people depicting mild symptoms. Hospital stay has been a major reason why people shy away from reporting to an identified designated government health facility,” said Vineet Chawdhary, Joint Secretary, Union health ministry.
In case of suspected cases wanting to stay in isolation at home, the families will be given a comprehensive list of Dos and Don’ts.
However, the reviewed guidelines come with a rider. Only those flu suspects, who show mild symptoms and after having been thoroughly clinically assessed at the identified designated government health facility, will be allowed to stay in home quarantine.
Also, these guidelines are not meant for suspected cases screened at the airport. “They will have to be quarantined at the hospital,” said Chawdhary.
The ministry official reiterated that any person developing flu-like symptoms must report to an identified designated government health facility only. “Doctors at these facilitates have a greater exposure to clinically deal with pandemic H1N1,” said Chawdhary.
But with one case of swine flu death already confirmed in the country, the health ministry does not want to take any chances.
“We are planning a workshop for health experts from the private sector so that they are better placed at identifying H1N1 from seasonal flu,” he said. The workshop will be conducted over the coming weekend.
As of now, each negative test costs the government Rs. 5,000 and each positive test costs Rs. 10,000. Cases have been reported from 22 cities across the country.