The health department has issued special instructions to all civil hospitals of the state to keep a strict vigil on the emerging cases of swine flu, a winter disease spread by H1N1 virus.
The number of swine flu cases in the state this year is already reaching last year's count.
A total of 16 cases had been detected in the state so far of which five patients had been referred to the private hospitals from the neighbouring states, state nodal officer Dr Deepak Bhatia said. "Of these, three patients had died. Two patients from Punjab died at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, while another from Tarn Taran died in a hospital in Amritsar," Dr Bhatia said.
The disease, an infection caused by one of the several types of swine viruses, usually spread more in winter, and the region had been witnessing a dip in temperature for the past several days, health experts said.
Dr Bhatia said 13 patients suffered from the swine flu last year and there were three causalities.
"Of the 11 cases in Punjab, four are from Patiala; and others from Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Muktsar and Ludhiana," he said.
Swine flu, also known as swine influenza or pig influenza, was first detected in India in 2009 and had been in the air since, he added.
"We have sufficient vaccine in stock at all civil hospitals of the state. Besides, the health officers have been asked to be quick and vigilant about the occurrence of the disease. Facilities of free sample collection, free testing, free medication for the person suffering and those in his contact would be assured to check spread of the disease," said Dr Bhatia.
"Besides, isolated wards had been identified so that patients can be provided with effective treatment, and hospitals have been asked to arrange quick transportation of patients to the PGI, Chandigarh, in case of an emergency," he said.
He said fever, sore throat, muscle pain, severe headache, coughing, cold, weakness and general discomfort were the common symptoms, and if these symptoms were present, people should immediately report to nearby hospitals.