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1 more death, was it swine flu?

india Updated: Aug 12, 2009 01:19 IST
HT Correspondents

Saeeda Dhorajiwala (62), a Mumbra resident, died on Tuesday at Noor Hospital, where she was being treated for heart disease and diabetes. Her swine flu test, which arrived at Kasturba Hospital shortly after her death, was positive.

On Saturday, Fahmida Panwala died of swine flu.

Dhorajiwala was admitted to hospital on August 3. “A day later, we took her throat swab and sent the samples to Kasturba as we suspected swine flu. But her reports didn’t arrive till after she had succumbed,” said Dr Amrita Vaidya, administrative officer, Noor Hospital.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), however, refused to attribute Dhorajiwala’s death to swine flu.

“The death certificate issued by the hospital said she was suffering from ischemic heart disease, severe diabetes and pneumonia. Though her test came positive for swine flu, the infection could be a secondary cause of death. It is not a swine flu death,” said Dr Jairaj Thanekar, executive health officer.

The Dhorajiwala family was clueless about swine flu. “My mother was on medication for eight years. When she developed complications, we took her to a Mumbra hospital which advised us to shift her to a bigger hospital,” said her daughter. She and her elder brother tested negative for the flu at Chhatrapati Shivaji Hospital in Kalwa.

On Tuesday, 24 more cases were reported in the city, including a student of Sarvodaya School in Goregaon, according to the Centre. The case count for Mumbai is now 119, according to the Centre. The civic body, however, insisted only four more had tested positive.

In neighbouring areas, two other school students — one from Ryan International School in Kharghar and Hiranandani Foundation in Thane — tested positive.

A call centre employee from Kalyan was also found to be suffering from the flu.

The BMC started an SMS poll in the evening, asking citizens whether they wanted schools to be shut.

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation and Thane Municipal Corporation ordered all schools shut till August 16.

“We have instructed principals to fumigate and shut affected classrooms. Shutting schools is not the solution. The virus is in the air, and children could pick it up in malls or trains even during the holidays,” said Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak.

“I’m very curious about what will Pune do after three days’ closure of schools, colleges, malls and multiplexes. Will they continue shutting them down for a further period if swine flu is not controlled by then?” Phatak said in the civic general body meeting on Tuesday.

State officials selected 21 private hospitals to treat swine flu patients. “Experts would review facilities at these hospitals and, if found fit, they would start treatment. We will give them medicine and essential support,” said Sharvaree Gokhale, additional chief secretary, health.

A two-member team from the Union Health Ministry would arrive in the city shortly to take stock of the situation.

On Tuesday, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad directed private hospitals and labs to create separate waiting areas to test and screen H1N1 cases.