The 30-bedded isolation ward at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML) wore a deserted look on Sunday after all seven passengers suspected for swine flu — renamed influenza A H1N1 virus — tested negative.
“We have no swine flu in India,” Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary, Union health ministry, said.
Four samples – two from Delhi and one each from Hyderabad and Mumbai – were being tested in India on Sunday. The results are expected late tonight or early tomorrow.
Mumbai got its first suspected case today when a 57-year-old Worli-resident, who returned from New York on April 28, reported cough symptoms. His throat-swab samples are being tested at the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.
In Delhi, three samples were sent for testing – of a passenger from Chicago, one from Gurgaon and one from Hyderabad – to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). “Though none of them have the clinical symptoms, we have chosen to be overcautious,” said Dr Shiv Lal, director general, NICD.
The Gurgaon case is in home isolation, while the Chicago passenger was admitted last night to a leading hospital that requested not to be named for fear of causing panic. All 11 passengers being tested in India have travelled from the US and the UK, but two – both from Hyderabad – had been to Mexico. Over three days, India has screened 41,012 passengers at 21 international airports.
Worldwide, swine flu was reported from 18 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, prompting the World Health Organisation to say it would not step down its flu alert from the phase 5 that signals an “imminent” pandemic.