Another death has been reported from Pune taking the city toll to 13 and India's count to 21.
The swine flu pandemic has claimed its first victim in the IT hub of Bangalore when a 26-year-old woman succumbed to the virus while severely hit Pune today.
The woman, identified as Roopa, a teacher in a private school, had tested positive for the virus and was undergoing treatment at Bangalore's St. Philomena hospital also for respiratory disorders, health authorities said.
A mother of two children aged between six and four, Roopa was hospitalised on August seven with pneumonia, and later tested positive for swine flu, they said. She was also suffering from high blood sugar, they said.
Following her death, the health authorities have advised the school, Sudarshan Vidyalaya, where she was taking classes till last week, to declare a break and subject students and her colleagues to flu tests as a precautionary measure, they said.
An eleven-month-old boy Rutwik Kamle and a 75-year-old woman Bharti Goyal died today in Pune, taking the toll in the Maharashtra city, severely hit by the virus, to 12 and across the country to 20.
Rutwik was admitted first to a private hospital and then shifted to government-run Sassoon Hospital last evening in a serious condition, official sources said. He died early this morning. Goyal, who was suffering from the viral infection, died in KEM Hospital in Pune, they said.
Besides the Pune deaths, one person each has succumbed to the virus in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Nashik, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram and two in Mumbai.
Reeling under the growing menace of swine flu that has claimed 13 lives in Maharashtra in 10 days, the state government admitted the disease was progressing, necessitating a change in strategy to counter it.
In view of the serious situation, health authorities have proposed a change in protocol for treating the large number of patients - either suspects or afflicted - of swine flu, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Sharvari Gokhale told mediapersons.
The existing protocol is to take a swab of the patient and give them a Tamiflu tablet - he/she is given two tablets if found positive.
"Now, we have proposed to give two tablets at the initial stage itself since we are already aware of all the symptoms of H1N1," she said.
The issue was discussed with a central health team, which visited Mumbai on Wednesday. Gokhale pointed out that Tamiflu is a Schedule X drug, meaning it can be prescribed only under certain conditions since its improper use can result in the virus developing resistance to it and making it ineffective.
The official further said that 22 private hospitals in Mumbai and nine in Pune have come forward to offer treatment facilities for swine flu patients since the government hospitals were getting over crowded. "Five of our medical teams are checking out the facilities available at these hospitals, whether they are equipped to treat swine flu, before we take a final decision," Gokhale said.
Spelling out the requirements, she said treatment centres must have separate entry/exit, no central airconditioning, a distance of at least six feet between two beds, ventilators (for the patients), separate bathrooms, separate doctors' changing rooms, trained paramedical and support staff, and separate bio-waste disposal facilities, among other conditions.
Some hospitals have said that with a few modifications, they would be able to comply with these requirements. A few private pharmaceutical companies have also come forward to offer their laboratories for testing the swine flu samples. Among them are Ranbaxy and Metropolis.
Currently, there are only two government testing facilities, one at the NIV Pune and a new one, Haffkine in Mumbai, which are heavily overloaded in view of the high number of cases.
A decision on the issue will be taken by the central government since the testing comes under its purview, Gokhale said.
So far, 42,816 patients have been screened for swine flu across the state of which 484, including 323 in Pune, have been detected positive.
Currently, 77 patients continue to be in hospitals in Mumbai, Pune and Satara. Of these four are critical in Pune and two in Mumbai.
Pune has 42 screening centres while Mumbai has six with more on cards shortly.