Haryana trying to downplay swine flu cases, say doctors

Doctors and the Haryana health department are at odds with each other when it comes to tackling swine flu. Private labs banned from sharing number of positive swine flu cases with public, say state’s move to prescribe Tamiflu without lab report is a ploy.

gurgaon Updated: Feb 19, 2015 10:31 IST
Snehil Sinha
Snehil Sinha
Hindustan Times

Doctors and the Haryana health department are at odds with each other when it comes to tackling swine flu.

While the department is discouraging lab test for swine flu mainly to reduce the burden on government labs, doctors say without a test, diagnosis of the disease is unscientific, difficult and dangerous for patients.

The department recently delisted Dr Lal Path Labs that was earlier recognised by the government for swine flu tests.

Following this a public advisory was issued to not get tested unless the illness is severe.

Private labs have also been banned from providing number of positive swine flu cases to the public or talk about the cases they are handling.

City doctors also claim that the actual number is much higher than what the state claims.

“We get about 150-170 cases every day and we also prefer to take multiple samples from a patient. Of these cases, 30%35% test positive,” said Dr Santosh Kumar, head microbiologist, Molecular Quest Healthcare Private Limited (MolQ laboratory).

A doctor from a private hospital in Gurgaon said, “The symptoms in category B of swine flu may be similar to other kinds of flu as well. In this case prescribing Tamiflu without confirmation may lead to people developing resistance towards the medicine, which is our only weapon against swine flu. The move is leading to nothing but an increased sale of Tamiflu.”

“These are stupid and unscientific ways in which the government is trying to show reduced number of cases. Efforts should rather be directed towards informing people that the disease is widespread and highly contagious but not very dangerous and that people should take precautions,” said another doctor.

However, Dr Pushpa Bishnoi, civil surgeon, Gurgaon, said, “There is no need for tests in the first two categories and also there is Number of swine flu cases is at least 10 times higher than official figures 30%-35% of all samples tested in labs turn out to be positive Civil Hospital has not received a single positive case yet in Gurgaon. All cases have come from private hospitals Doctors say test necessary to confirm cases Government has asked doctors to prescribe Tamiflu without testing, based on symptoms Civil hospital has given Tamiflu to 100 patients and has 1,200 pills in stock The hospital has categorised nearly 1,800 patients in ‘A’ and ‘B’ but nobody has tested positive yet much load on diagnostic labs. We are discouraging the test to reduce financial burden on people as the test is costly, and also to ensure that there is no delay in treatment.”

The total number of official confirmed swine flu cases has increased to 17 in Gurgaon in the past ten days.

The department has confirmed that three people have died of swine flu in Gurgaon, of which one was a resident of the city.

The Civil Hospital has given Tamiflu to 100 patients and has 1,200 pills in its stock.

First Published: Feb 19, 2015 10:28 IST