A day after Mumbai recorded its first swine flu death, the State government decided to involve private hospitals in the battle to control the epidemic and to administer Tamiflu to all those suspected of being infected.
However, doctors insisted there was no need to panic saying most healthy individuals had a natural immunity to it. Health officials stressed that only people who are weak or have other health conditions were at risk of contracting swine flu, which they admitted was in the air now.
“Over 1000 viruses that can cause anything from common cold to flu are present in the air. They are transmitted when infected persons cough or sneeze. But even those who contract the virus don’t necessarily develop the disease,” said KEM Hospital’s microbiologist Dr Geeta Natraj.
The virus had moved into a phase where doctors could not wait for a patient’s throat swab test report. “We will start with Tamiflu to every suspected patient now. We can’t wait till the report is positive,” said Dr Sanjay Oak, director of medical education and major hospitals.
The tablets will, however, be administered only at designated public hospitals or at private hospital centers on case-to-case basis.
Nine more Mumbai residents tested positive for swine flu on Sunday till 3 pm. Over 730 people were screened at the five designated centers and throat swabs of 140 of them were collected between 8 am and 3 pm.
BMC’s Executive Health Officer Dr Jairaj Thanekar said “All literature shows that this is a milder variety of the virus,” he said.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan convened a meeting on Sunday, where it was decided to involve the private sector. “ Right now the situation is under control, and we have decided to form a core group under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Johnny Joseph along with other officials to evaluate the daily situation,” Chavan said.
“The panic in the state is growing and so are the people at the screening centres, so we are increasing them. A meeting with private hospitals is scheduled with the core group on Monday, after which hospitals which are willing and can abide by all the requirements of treating swine flu will be given permissions to admit patients,” he said. But this, he specified, would be announced after the meeting.
The inclusion of private hospitals is a part of the three-tier medical system that was decided in the meeting. The government clarified that general physicians who are the first contacts of patients will be allowed to carry out the primary examination of patients.