Health Ministry sends 2 teams to Gujarat, Punjab to assist states in containing swine flu

The ministry had earlier deputed a public health team to Rajasthan, which has recorded the highest number of cases and deaths due to swine flu this year.


New Delhi| In view of rising cases of swine flu and deaths due to the disease in Gujarat and Punjab, the Union Health Ministry has sent two teams to assess the situation and assist the states in strengthening their response mechanism to contain the ailment.

Fifty-four deaths and 1,187 cases were reported in Gujarat till February 7, while 30 deaths and 301 cases were reported from Punjab, according to data by the Health Ministry.

“Two central teams have been sent to Gujarat and Punjab as they have reported a large number of fatalities due to the H1N1 infection,” said an official from the ministry.

Both teams comprise a microbiologist, an epidemiologist and a clinician.

The ministry had earlier deputed a public health team to Rajasthan, which has recorded the highest number of cases and deaths due to swine flu this year.

Ninety-six deaths and 2,706 cases were reported in Rajasthan till February 7, the data stated.

The states have also been advised to involve district collectors in enhancing public awareness and outbreak response.

The death toll due to swine flu in the country has soared to 226 with the H1N1 virus claiming 31 more lives in a week till Monday, while the number of those affected crossed the 6,000 mark.

In a recently held high-powered meeting with senior officials of the ministry, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan reviewed the state of preparedness and action taken to deal with H1N1 influenza cases.

The guidelines for influenza vaccination were shared with all the states and the details of manufacturers of vaccine provided by the Drug Controller General of India was shared with all the states.

Communication material for preventive measures has also been shared with all the states.

“Majority of cases have been reported from 13 states (and the majority of deaths have been reported from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab. Deaths have been seen more in persons having comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension etc,” the official said.

Regular video conferences are being held to monitor the situation, he said.

Advisory for preparedness to seasonal influenza A (H1N1) was issued and Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and its state units have enhanced the surveillance for Influenza-like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), according to a statement issued here.

The Drug Controller General of India has been asked to coordinate with drug manufacturers and monitor the availability of Oseltamivir, the drug recommended by the WHO in various states, it said.

The ministry has recommended vaccination for health care workers and other priority groups.

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