Swine flu cases in India mounted to 30 on Monday after seven more teenaged students who returned from an educational tour of the US tested positive for the virus. On its part, the government urged the people, especially students, to suspend their visits abroad.
According to health officials here, seven of a group of 31 students from the Guru Amar Das Public School in Jalandhar, who had gone to New York and Florida to visit National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facilities, tested positive for swine flu.
While one of the students was detected with swine flu Sunday and was hospitilised in Delhi, the rest left for Punjab and were Sunday found to be suffering from flu-like symptoms.
"Ten had developed symptoms of mild influenza-like illness and were kept in isolation at the Civil Hospital in Jalandhar," said an official statement here.
"Of the 10, seven tested positive for the influenza A(H1N1) virus Monday. All these children are stable and responding to treatment," the statement added.
The rest of the students, their families and social contacts and those sitting in their proximity on the flight back have been identified, the statement said.
Four doctors from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) here have gone to Jalandhar to oversee the treatment of the students.
So far, samples of 318 people have been tested, of which 30 have tested positive for influenza A (H1N1), a health official said.
Of these, only two are human-to-human transfer cases.
"Among the 318 tested, 92 were identified through health screening at international airports, 10 were identified through contact tracing and the rest were samples from people who have self-reported," the official said.
In Hyderabad, two sisters aged eight and four and a 45-year-old woman were late Sunday confirmed to be infected, taking the total number of cases in Andhra Pradesh to 12, the highest in India. The confirmed cases include five children.
The two sisters and their mother arrived in Hyderabad from New York June 10. The mother is among five passengers kept under observation for suspected symptoms of swine flu.
Doctors at the Andhra Pradesh Chest Hospital said the samples of the suspected cases, including two children had been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in New Delhi.
With the surge in swine flu cases, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who chaired a review meeting Monday morning, said: "Till this disease is not controlled globally, I would like to request young people from educational institutions going abroad to suspend their visits for the time being.
"They can go after 2-3 months," he told reporters.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Thursday raised its alert against the swine flu to the highest level - Phase 6. The swine flu pandemic is the first since the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968 that killed one million people.
Azad said situation was under control as of the total infected people, 11 had been discharged after being treated.
"Medicine is available in plenty and the most important thing is that this disease is 100 percent curable. Of the total 23 cases (repeated at the time he spoke), 11 have already been treated and discharged. So you are only left with 12 cases," he said.
He said that keeping in mind India's size and population, the cases here were minimal as compared to the huge numbers most developed countries have reported.
Azad said the director general of health services should immediately send a Rapid Response Team to Punjab and make available adequate quantities of Tamiflu tablets to help contain spread of the disease.
The health minister also spoke to chief ministers of all the states urging them to gear up their health machinery to prevent the spread of the virus.