School kids wearing masks to prevent infection after a girl was confirmed to have acquired swine flu, at the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, Feb. 18. (Press Trust of India)

Swine flu deaths continued unabated as the toll crossed 670. India’s drug authority asked pharmacists, Feb. 17, to stock “Tamiflu” drug but not sell it without prescription. A Press Trust of India report.

The virus claimed 85 more lives between February 15-19, taking the death toll to over 670 in this year alone. The flu has already affected 9,311 people this year, much more than the past few years.

With the death toll rising, the number could surpass that of 2013, which had reported 699 deaths. 218 people had died of swine flu last year. In 2012, there were 405 deaths.

Health Minister J.P. Nadda chaired a high-level review meeting here to take stock of the crisis as officials assessed reports from states and measures to deal with the infectious disease, sources said.

As reports emerged about shortage of medicines at some places, Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) wrote to over 10,000 chemists across the country to stock Oseltamivir drug but not sell it without a valid prescription, they said.

It also asked chemists to keep a photocopy of the prescriptions that they fill.

The death toll in Rajasthan and Gujarat – the two worst affected states – stood at 176 and 150 respectively on February 16. In Rajasthan, the maximum number of 30 deaths was reported in capital Jaipur.

Eighty-one people have died in Madhya Pradesh, where the highest number of causality, 15, due to infection of H1N1 virus was reported in Indore.

Meanwhile, two senior officials were sent to RML Hospital in the national capital to assess the situation.