The government stepped up efforts to contain swine flu in Pune, directing all schools, colleges and coaching classes to shut for a week. Cinema halls will be shut for three days.
This followed two more deaths in Pune on Monday.
At 7.20 am, Ayurveda doctor Babasaheb Mane (36), passed away. “For the last three days, he was on life support. He succumbed at 7.20 am on Monday,” said Sassoon Hospital dean Arun Jamkar.
Doctors said Mane probably contracted the virus through his patients or through foreigners whom he was in touch with while running his non-governmental organisation.
Sanjay Tilekar (35), a chemist, passed away in the evening. “He was on a ventilator for the last three days and was improving. However, he suffered from fatal cardiac arrest at 8.05 pm,” said Pandurang Pawar, Sassoon Hospital’s medical superintendent.
Tilekar was Pune’s fourth swine flu fatality and the country’s seventh.
On Monday, there were 18 fresh cases in Pune, taking the city’s tally to 220. The state may now involve private hospitals in treatment, given the pressure on civic hospitals.
At Sassoon, Shruti Gawade (13), Chandrabhaga Sasane (2), Sanjay Mistry (35) and Shravani Deshpande (29) remained “extremely critical”. “We are trying everything possible. Let’s pray for the best,” said Resident Medical Officer Deepa Lad.
Pune guardian minister Ajit Pawar met with scientists from Central agencies, and appealed to people to stay home as far as possible and avoid public places.
The shutdown for cinemas may be extended to a week.
Normally, a total shutdown is called in case of Epidemic Level 6, which, according to World Health Organisation guidelines, is when there are “community-level outbreaks”.
In Pune, there are cases across areas and sections of society. The government, however, has not termed it a Level 6 outbreak, which calls for a blanket shutdown of all public places.
One lakh Tamiflu tablets have been stocked in Pune, while 10 lakh more have been called for.
Across Pune, private firms reported low attendance, while many asked employees to stay home if they showed any flu symptoms.
Meanwhile, the Satara administration was in panic mode as an 11-year-old student of New Era School, Panchgani, ran away from a district hospital. The student tested positive for H1N1 and is suspected to have gone to Mumbai with his parents.
Satara District Health Officer Dr SD Nikam said the student went for a test last Thursday to Krantisinh Nana Patil Civil Hospital. He was asked to return the next day for a throat swab. He then jumped onto a motorcycle driven by an adult and fled.
His medical report, which the hospital got on Monday, confirmed swine flu. He was untraced till Monday evening.
Panchgani Assistant Police Inspector DR Badade said: “The boy has a cellphone, but is not responding when called. We can’t get his address because the school is closed.” He said he would contact the Mumbai police for help.
On Friday, a foreign student, Sehwan Mohmmad Aziz (21), ran away from Pune’s Sassoon Hospital after being admitted for suspected swine flu.
In Daund taluka, 100 km away from Pune, there was fear after the death of Sanjay Kokre (42). About 30,000 people commute between Daund and Pune every day.
Residents of Boropardhi village remembered Kokre, a teacher, fondly because of his devotion to education. Kokre’s son Kunal is under observation, while his family members have been given medicines for five days. Hundreds attended Kokre’s funeral on Sunday. Officials asked villagers to wear masks or cover their mouths with cloth.