The civic body has initiated an awareness campaign, sent out circulars to 1,300 schools and is meeting doctors’ associations and clinics to contain the spread of swine flu.
But the city that’s home to approximately 18 million people has just one centre to screen its citizens for swine flu — Kasturba hospital on Arthur Road. “The immediate task for the government is to start opening testing centres at private hospitals. Treatment should be monitored by the government,” said Narendra Arora, senior epidemiologist and executive director of the Delhi-based Indian Clinical Epidemiology Network.
“If needed, we can open more screening centres at short notice. We have the manpower,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, BMC.
Experts say the state should also stock up on Tamiflu, the medicine used to treat swine flu. “The biggest crisis will be to arrange for the quantity of Tamiflu that may be required given the population of Mumbai and India,” said Arora. Mhaiskar said the BMC has sufficient stock of Tamiflu.
Swine flu is now a localised infection in Pune and Mumbai, meaning “it is present locally in the environment and multiplying”. So vigilance at airports may not help contain the virus, said Arora. The best way to contain it is through awareness and widespread testing facilities.
City schools have started watching students closely. While some are sending students showing flu symptoms home, others have approached doctors to speak to their students, are putting up posters and sending circulars to parents.
Experts warn the next phase of heavy showers will make it tougher to contain the spread of the disease as the virus propagates faster in cooler temperature.
The next wave could also be more virulent. “It may come back in a more severe form,” said Naresh Gupta, senior doctor at Delhi’s Maulana Azad Medical College.