With 26 deaths and 80 positive cases so far this year, Punjab has seen one of the worst outbreaks of swine flu in the past five years. However, experts insist that the number of cases is on the decline now.
“The number of positive cases has declined significantly as compared to 15 days ago. We are hopeful the situation will be under complete control soon,” said Dr Deepak Bhatia, in-charge of Punjab’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP). Experts also say insist that it is like any other viral fever, fatal only for people suffering from other serious diseases along with the flu.
The high death rate — 33% of all cases — in the state is a cause of worry, though. Nationally, over 8,000 cases have been reported but the infection has killed around 550 people, a death rate of around 7%. “We don’t know the reason or how the calculation has been done. But, in Punjab most of the fatal cases were of those people who were suffering from other diseases along with swine flu,” said Dr Bhatia.
According to the IDSP, the worst year of swine flu was 2009-10 (considered one phase), when 252 confirmed cases of H1N1 and 40 deaths were reported in Punjab. It was followed by 2013, when 183 confirmed cases were reported and there were 42 deaths.
So far, Amritsar is the worst-hit district in the state, with six deaths, followed by Jalandhar with four and Kapurthala with three deaths. In the number of positive cases as such, Amritsar again tops the list with 12 cases, followed by Jalandhar and Ludhiana with nine cases each, and Sangrur with six. However, 44 people were given treatment for swine flu without actual tests being carried out.
Experts say there is no need to panic. “Not just swine flu but there are a number of other such infections that can be fatal for people who suffer from other diseases, such as TB or hepatitis,” said Dr Gagandeep Shergill, general secretary, PCMS Doctors’ Association, Punjab.
According to health officials, these days most cases in OPDs are of seasonal flu, which will hopefully decrease with the rise in temperature.
Year Swine flu cases Deaths
2009-10* 252 40
2011 46 23
2012 16 3
2013 183 42
2014 23 3
2015, so far 80 26
(*2009-10 considered together as one phase; rest are calendar years)
Curing tablets available in 4 districts
Tablets of Tamiflu, the medication for swine flu caused by influenza, were so far available only in Chandigarh, but will be available in various cities of Punjab from now. Union ministry of health on Wednesday announced to allow 11 retailers to sell Tamiflu in Punjab. It includes five shops in Mohali, three in Ludhiana, two shops in Amritsar and one in Ludhiana. At Chandigarh, it’s available at 11 shops now.