With 33 new swine flu cases coming to light since Thursday, the total number of H1N1 patients in Uttar Pradesh on Friday climbed to 359, officials said.
Swine flu claimed 39 more lives countrywide on Thursday as the death toll reached closer to the 1000 mark while the number of people affected with the H1N1 virus across the country crossed 17,000 on . Ministry sources said 965 people have perished due to the disease while the total number of people affected with the seasonal influenza virus has crossed the 17,000 mark till the evening of February 25.
A nurse at a government hospital tested positive, triggering panic in the health fraternity and forcing the health department to issue new guidelines for prevention of the disease.
The health officials are worried because patients were now coming from new areas such as Aliganj, Niralanagar, Gomtinagar and Vikasnagar. With a drop in temperature coupled with heavy rains, officials feared a spurt in H1N1 cases in the state capital Lucknow.
Meanwhile, the testing facilities in the city remained largely ineffective as over a dozen people complained that neither the Sanjay Gandhi Post-graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI) nor any other state government hospital was attending to patients with swine flu symptoms.
"There is a huge paucity of testing labs in the city and therefore patients and potential risk people are suffering," a senior citizen said. He was trying to get his son tested after he showed symptoms of the flu after returning from New Delhi.
Doctors in various government hospitals, however, said that 200 patients suffering from swine flu have recovered and have been discharged.
Acting on the directives of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court, the health department will begin selling masks through kiosks in public places.
"Masks will be sold through kiosks and stalls outside schools, malls and other public areas," said SN Yadav, chief medical officer of Lucknow.
He said this facility will be initiated within the next few days. Officials also said an awareness campaign has been undertaken and 25 hoardings have been put up in the city.
In other parts of the state, three cases were reported from Mainpuri, two from Bijnore, one from Bahraich and a few other cases from the eastern parts.
In Rajasthan, six more deaths were reported and in Gujarat, eight more people died. The total death toll in Rajasthan has reached around 250 and in Gujarat it stands at over 240 since last month.
As per reports, 180 new cases of swine flu were reported across Gujarat, taking the total number of cases reported till date close to 4,000.
The swine flu epidemic has led to the death of over 900 people across the country while 14,000 people have been affected by the H1N1 virus.
Swine flu is caused by H1N1 virus. Symptoms for swine flu include high fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and internal and external bleeding.