The Maharashtra government on Sunday started working on a protocol to permit private hospitals to treat patients of swine flu that has claimed three lives in the state as the influenza A(H1N1) virus continued to spread.
The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) will discuss the matter Monday, Municipal Commissioner J Phatak said.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan also indicated that private medicos and hospitals could treat suspected H1N1 patients.
However, in Mumbai the suspect cases would have to be sent to the six government-designated screening centres opened in the metropolis on Sunday. They would collect the samples and get these tested at the authorised laboratories.
"But these centres need not wait for the lab reports to come and they can start treatment of the suspected swine flu patients," Chavan added.
He added that the government would also identify private hospitals at the district level which are equipped with proper facilities and follow the mandatory central guidelines. "Such hospitals would be allowed to treat swine flu patients," the chief minister said.
India's first swine flu victim was Reeda Shaikh, a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Pune, who died Monday, followed by Fehmida Panwala, a 53-year-old woman from Mumbai, who died late Saturday. Sanjay Kokare was the third patient to die of swine flu in Pune Sunday.
Maharashtra recorded 46 new patients, taking the state's total of H1N1 cases to 276, said State Swine Flu Control Room head Pradeep Awate.
Of these, 42 cases were from Pune taking the city's total to 203, and four in Mumbai, making a total of 46. Another 25 are taking treatment in Satara, and the total number of patients in various hospitals till Sunday evening was 81, Awate said.
Earlier Sunday afternoon, the MCGM reported seven minor schoolchildren, including six girls, testing positive for swine flu till Sunday.
Two schools have been shut down for a week to prevent further infection among the students, the most vulnerable section. They include the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Bandra, and JB Vachha School, Matunga.
A decision on other schools in the city was expected on Monday.