With six new swine flu cases confirmed on Friday, India’s tally has more than doubled to 50 since Monday — when the figure was 23.
With the situation spiralling out of control, the Centre is considering asking people with symptoms to get quarantined and treated wherever they want — at home or in private hospitals.
“There are many more swine flu cases out there than being reported,” said a health ministry official, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media. “Many people with symptoms don’t get tested because they do not want to stay in a government hospital for a week.”
A more realistic approach is needed to get the numbers right and encourage people to get diagnosed at first sign of symptoms, even if it means allowing them to stay home, he said.
“There will be a reworking of strategy. We will move from containing to managing the infection,” said Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary, health ministry.
The new strategy will move from containment (in government hospitals) to the protection phase, where only those at risk (see box) are treated.
We now have to protect and treat,” said the ministry official. India’s fourth local transmission occurred in Delhi on Friday, with a 66-year-old woman being infected from a person who had travelled abroad.
A nine-year-old boy who returned from the US and a 28-year-old man who travelled from Egypt are two more cases confirmed in Delhi. The other three new cases are of a 36-year-old man in Mumbai – the city’s first – and a man (36) and a two-year-old child in Bangalore.
Worldwide, 3,9620 cases have been reported in 89 countries, with 167 deaths.