Swine flu kills 743, sets alarm bells ringing across India

New Delhi (IANS): The number of deaths across India due to swine flu reached 743 Friday, with 40 more people, including a 23-year-old pregnant woman in Delhi, succumbing to the disease.

The woman, a resident of Krishna Nagar in east Delhi, was infected with swine flu during her pregnancy. This was the seventh death due to the viral disease in the national capital which has so far reported 1,917 cases.

Across India, the number of cases rose from 11,071 Thursday to 11,955 Friday, a health ministry official said.

So far, Rajasthan has reported 202 deaths, Gujarat 155 and Telangana 49. Twenty-seven people have died in Punjab while 20 have succumbed in neighbouring Haryana, six have died in Delhi, four in Kashmir and three each in West Bengal and Chandigarh.

However, no fresh case was reported in Himachal Pradesh Friday, though 16 positive cases and three deaths have been recorded till date in the state.

The northeastern states sounded a high alert after two women tested positive in Nagaland and Mizoram.

A woman in Mizoram was detected with swine flu, the first case in the state bordering Myanmar.

“A woman tested positive for swine flu in Aizawl. She was in New Delhi for a short period and it is suspected that she contracted the H1N1 virus in the national capital,” the nodal officer of Mizoram Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, Pachuau Lalmalsawma, told reporters.

Another woman in Nagaland’s Dimapur too tested positive for the virus as the state’s health and family welfare department sounded a high alert in all its 11 district units.

The woman works in Chennai, and had come to Dimapur via Kolkata Feb 13, a health department official said.

As a result, the Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya governments have also sounded high alerts and directed medical authorities to be ready to deal with any eventuality.

The northeastern states share international boundaries with China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal and there is frequent cross-border movement of people in the region – legally and illegally.

Meanwhile, a team of experts from the health ministry was visiting Telangana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to extend technical support to these states while union Health Minister J.P. Nadda reviewed the health situation in Uttar Pradesh.

Nadda met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow to discuss issues and programmes concerning these diseases as well as the swine flu situation in the state.

The ministry has asked states to study the patterns in mortality such as which areas, age groups and section of people have been most affected.

The government had Thursday held a high-level meeting to review the situation in order to address issues like shortage of drugs.

The meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) was attended by chief secretaries and medical heads of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.

The cabinet secretary stressed that the states should ensure that the outbreak monitoring cells and necessary helplines function round the clock.

The states have assured centre that adequate stocks of medicines were available and people were being made aware about the spread of the disease.