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H1N1 virus makes a return

Is the much-feared second wave of Influenza A (H1N1) virus or swine flu finally here? Rhythma Kaul reports.

delhi Updated: Dec 01, 2009 01:09 IST
Rhythma Kaul

Is the much-feared second wave of Influenza A (H1N1) virus or swine flu finally here?

The flu was expected to hit more severely during winters as temperatures dropped. Though experts deny the “second wave” is here yet, but if the rising number of H1N1 cases in the city are anything to go by, the viral disease has indeed made a strong return. On Monday, the total number of cases reported in Delhi rose to 92. Sixty-two patients were children.

In less than 15 days, the total number of influenza A H1N1 cases reported in a day in the national Capital has shot up by more than 50 per cent. Till November 16, the number of positive H1N1 cases coming from the laboratories remained under 25, but on November 17 the number suddenly rose to 62. There have been 5809 cases reported of the viral disease in the city so far.

The number of children affected with the disease has increased too. Out of all the reported cases in the city, 2,877 are that of children. School authorities have again resorted to shutting the school as a precautionary measure. DPS Ghaziabad recently closed its junior wing for a week, when a Class 3 student tested positive.

“The rising numbers don’t shock us, it’s something we had been anticipating may happen during winters since long, but it would be really premature to call it a second wave,” said a WHO official, on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The Sate health department also agreed that the spurt in cases did not amount to a second wave. “The numbers have increased, but it’s not the second wave. The government has full control over the situation. We have adequate amount of medicine stockpiled, and there’s no need to panic,” said Kiran Walia, the state health minister.

Meanwhile, restricted sale of anti-influenza A H1N1 drug -oseltamivir - to curb misuse of the medicine is spelling trouble even for those affected with the disease. People complain government hospitals are unnecessarily harassing even genuine H1N1 patients.

Ajay Bassi, a businessman from Gurgaon, came to New Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital on Friday to collect the medicine for his 12-year-old son. He had to return empty handed after waiting in the queue for two hours. He was refused the medicine, as he had not brought his son along, and did not have the prescription of a certified state government doctor.

“I had positive test report of my son from one of the government-certified private laboratories. But they were adamant on having a doctor’s prescription from one of the government-designated hospitals. How could I show it to them when I took my son for testing on the recommendation of our family physician,” he asked.

“What’s the need to restrict sale of tamiflu in H1N1 positive cases? Most suspected cases these days directly go for testing,” said Dr S.C. Arya, a senior pediatrician with a prominent private hospital in Delhi.