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After first death, city on the edge

india Updated: Aug 09, 2009 01:16 IST
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The deadly silence outside Kasturba Hospital’s H1N1 (swine flu) ward was broken by the cries of the family of Famida Panwala, who succumbed to the virus around 4.30 pm on Saturday.

While civic health authorities said Panwala was 53 years old, her relatives said she was 33. She lived in Jogeshwari with her husband Zubed and 12-year- old son Afzal.

Doctors have put the family and all close contacts on Tamiflu, the anti-viral drug.

Civic health officials said Famida had been on ventilator as soon as she was admitted on Friday evening as she had breathing problems.

But another patient’s daughter, who was outside the quarantine ward, alleged that she had not been put on ventilator. On Saturday, one more Mumbaiite tested positive for the dreaded flu.

Till Saturday, 47 people from Mumbai, including Thane, have been diagnosed with swine flu and 258 in Pune.

Civic hospital doctors also screened the family of Sandeep Gaikwad, the 28-year-old swine flu patient who is at Powai’s Hiranandani Hospital, and collected throat swabs of two of them for testing.

Dr Rushabh Oswal of Andheri’s Paramount Hospital, where Gaikwad was initially admitted, said they were treating him for viral fever and suspected malaria for three days.

“We then sent him to Hiranandani Hospital as he had developed respiratory failure,” Oswal said.

Gaikwad’s brother said they do not want to take any action against Paramount hospital.

Even before the news of the city’s first swine flu death was out, panic-stricken people continued to throng Kasturba Hospital to be tested.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said 217 were screened on Saturday and the throat swabs of 60 of them were collected.

Most people had to queue up for three to four hours in the narrow corridors of Kasturba hospital before they were examined.

Most of them weren’t aware that there were other screening centres available.

Thane resident Rama Thuse (33) was waiting with her son Sarang (4) for three hours. “Sarang has high fever. The hospital should have at least arranged for a separate queue for children. Waiting here in these conditions is bound to worsen their health,” she said.

MBA student Rishi Shrivastava (21) said he would get flu just by standing in the narrow corridor with so many people sneezing and coughing. His friend Megh (21), who was accompanying him, dropped the idea of getting himself checked and left fearing he might catch the flu.

“The masks that a lot of people are wearing are not 100 per cent safe,” Megh said.