With an elderly woman and a teenaged boy dying of swine flu in Pune and Raipur, the pandemic toll in the country has risen to 24 even as the government decided to organise an orientation programme for experts from private laboratories for conducting flu tests.
70-year-old Parubhai Shinde, who was admitted to a hospital in Pune four days back following high fever and other symptoms of swine flu, died late last night, health officials said. With this, the toll in Pune, severely hit by the virus, has mounted to 15.
An 18-year-old boy Sitaram Varma died in Raipur on Thursday of suspected swine flu, the first such fatality in Chhattisgarh.
Varma, hailing from Bhilai was suffering from pneumonia and throat infection, hospital sources said. Nodal officer in-charge of swine flu cases in Chhattisgarh T K Aggarwal said that Varma's throat swab was sent to Delhi for the flu test as the boy had recently visited Pune.
Besides the fatalities in Pune, one person each has died due to the viral infection in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Nashik, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Bangalore, Raipur and two in Mumbai.
As flu cases continued to mount, the Union health ministry has decided to conduct from today an orientation programme for experts from private laboratories engaged by the government for carrying out diagnostics test for patients suspected to be infected by the virus.
The decision to conduct the orientation programme was by the ministry at a meeting in Delhi on Thursday with different private diagnostic laboratories to check their preparedness in terms of testing swine flu samples.
"It was decided during the meeting with health ministry officials that two experts from each laboratory who are engaged in conducting different tests will undergo an orientation programme before starting actual work on swine flu samples," Vinay Batra, Global Director, Sales and Marketing, Super Religare Laboratories said.
"In this orientation programme, their technical staff will tell us their experience and explain certain do's and dont's while conducting the tests. They will tell us the guidelines to be followed while conducting the tests, how to handle the transportation of samples, how to wear the mask, the goggles, the cap and use other logistics," he said.
An official from National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) present at the meeting said, "first we will give them 10 already tested samples for validation and if they give correct results, we will go ahead with the commercial samples."