The Madhya Pradesh high court on Friday laid down an 11-point guideline for the state government to tackle the H1N1 virus even as authorities struggled to ascertain the exact number of deaths in the latest swine flu outbreak.
The directive by the Indore bench of the high court, which includes setting up a testing laboratory in Indore, highlighted the gravity of the situation in the state where over 50 swine flu deaths have been confirmed since January this year.
The opposition, however, claim that the state government was hiding the actual toll.
The underfire Health minister Narottam Mishra gave a vague reply when asked about the number of deaths till Friday.
"I told the media about the state figures of swine flu deaths and positive cases yesterday. For the latest figures principal secretary health Pravir Krishn should be contacted."
However, repeated calls to the principal secretary went unanswered.
Heath officials said the state’s problems were compounded by the fact it had only two laboratories for testing swab samples of suspected cases -- the Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals at Jabalpur and another DRDO-run facility at Gwalior.
The MP high court on Friday pointed out this fact and asked the government to set up a laboratory at the earliest in Indore, considered the commercial capital of the state.
While laying down the guidelines, a division bench comprising justice PK Jaiswal and justice Alok Verma also opined that given the gravity of the prevailing situation, it was essential to act proactively and curb the virus from spreading further and save human lives.
Five more deaths were reported on Friday at the MY Hospital, out of which one woman from Ujjain was a confirmed as suffering from flu, health officials said. Test reports of the rest are awaited.
In Bhopal, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan reviewed the situation for the third consecutive day and announced that the state government will pay for the treatment of patients admitted to private hospitals who are unable to bear the expenses.
After refusing to involve private hospitals for more than a week, a hapless Chouhan urged them to extend cooperation in treatment of the disease.
Significantly, health officials present at the meeting said that swine flu was "under control" in the state, sources said.