Swine flu has hogged the nation’s mindspace with more than 11,000 cases and 700 deaths in a little over six weeks, but some political leaders remain clueless about the viral infection.
“Swine flu is a heart disease... Hence, BMC will plant trees, develop gardens and parks to check swine flu,” Mumbai mayor Snehal Ambekar told reporters in Mumbai on Thursday.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had a different diagnosis. “As you all know, people are travelling, it mostly happens from mosquito bites and various other reasons. To heal the disease is not possible for me, but to get it nicely treated is our duty on humanitarian grounds,” she said in Kolkata.
Her remarks came after six new cases were reported in West Bengal over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of infected patients in the state to 42.
The Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Parishad was adjourned for the day as the Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and other Opposition parties protested the state government’s apparent failure in streamlining its swine flu management system to check the virus from spreading out of control.
The country’s most populous state reported 11 fresh cases since Wednesday, taking its flu figure to 152.
Nationwide data collated till Wednesday shows 11,171 cases and 703 deaths this outbreak, with 32 fatalities over the past 24 hours.
“If cases are going up, it’s mostly because everyone with fever is getting tested. Deaths are going down in most states, including Telangana, which reported one death on Wednesday after several days, but the infection hasn’t subsided in Rajasthan and Gujarat,” said a health ministry official.
The government on Thursday ordered 100,000 additional doses of the antiviral Oseltamivir, which shortens the duration and severity of the illness and prevents infection.
This will add to the stockpile of 60,000 adult doses of the drug.
“All states have adequate stock of drugs, personal protective equipment (masks and gloves) for medical staff and vaccines, except Maharashtra, which has asked for more vaccines,” said Anshu Prakash, joint secretary at the health ministry.
Vaccines for the H1N1 virus are manufactured at the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.
Health ministry officials tracking the outbreak have been infected, too. P Ravindran, who heads the emergency health services, and Shashi Khare, head of microbiology at the National Centre for Disease Control, testing positive for H1N1 after returning from trip to Gujarat. Both have recovered.
Rajasthan remained the worst-hit with the toll reaching 191.
State health minister Rajendra Rathore has advised people to contact a doctor immediately if someone shows swine flu-like symptoms. His appeal stems from the fact 107 people died of the flu within 48 hours of admission to hospitals, which shows patients were opting for proper treatment at an advanced stage.
The death rate in Rajasthan is 5.23% for over 3,000 positive cases — better than neighbouring Gujarat where 155 deaths were reported out of 1,936 people testing positive.
In Uttar Pradesh, capital city Lucknow alone accounted for 113 cases. Of the 152 people who tested positive statewide, 26 are children below 16.
The state government has warned against hoarding and selling antiviral drugs at a premium by private medical stores.
Indore and Bhopal have become flu epicentres for Madhya Pradesh with 63 and 27 deaths this season. Overall, the number of positive cases in the state crossed 430 on Thursday. The death toll has reached 102.
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