A teacher teaching a class of students, wearing masks to avoid contracting swine flu, in Mumbai, Feb. 20. (Shashank Parade | PTI)
Swine flu has claimed the lives of 34 more persons raising the toll to 875 across the country even as the number of affected people breached the 15,000 mark, as of Feb. 24. A Press Trust of India report.
Collated data by Health Ministry said 875 persons have died in various states till February 23 this year while 15,413 persons have been affected by the disease.
Health Minister J.P. Nadda confirmed in both the Houses of Parliament, Feb. 24, that the cases of Influenza A currently being reported are of H1N1 which is the same virus which took a huge toll during 2009 and there is “no mutation” in the virus.
He said that Oseltamivir drug used during the time of pandemic 2009-2010 remains effective for treatment now as well.
As per the Health Ministry data, the highest number of casualties have been reported from Rajasthan where 225 people have perished due to the disease while 4,734 people are affected with the deadly virus.
Gujarat is the second most affected state with 219 people dead while 3,337 people affected with the virus. The data said that 117 people have died in Madhya Pradesh while 660 have been affected while 103 persons have perished in Maharashtra where 1,055 persons have been affected.
In Delhi, eight persons have died while the number of persons affected rose to 2,337. In other states like Telangana and Punjab, 51 and 37 deaths have been reported respectively.
“The situation is being closely monitored by us and all necessary assistance is being provided to the states. Adequate stocks of medicine, masks and PPE are available. No efforts will be spared for effectively dealing with the situation,” Nadda said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was “carefully watching” the swine flu situation in India though it said that there are “no signs” yet of the makings of a large outbreak of the H1N1 virus.
A senior WHO official said the seasonal influenza was quite normal at this time of the year and its India office was closely working with the government for dealing with the disease.
“We are working with the government on this to watch what is panning out in India. So far, there are no signs of the makings of a large outbreak. But we are watching carefully,” WHO Assistant Director General Flavia Bustreo told reporters.
Nadda said the number of reported cases in 2009 were 27,236 and 20,604 in 2010. The number of deaths in 2009 were 981 and increased to 1763 in 2010.
According to Health Ministry data 937 cases were reported in 2014, 218 had died of the disease. In 2013, 5,253 people were affected while 699 people lost their lives. In 2012, there were 405 casualties out of 5,044 reported cases.
The health minister also brushed aside reports that there was a shortage of Oseltamivir drug, used for treating the disease and said it was being manufactured in India.
“We have held meetings with the manufacturers on two occasions. These indigenous manufacturers have confirmed that they have sufficient capacity and stock of active pharmaceutical ingredients to meet requirements. In fact, one of the manufacturers is a Central Public Sector Undertaking,” he said.
Nadda said his Ministry has already supplied 58,000 capsules of Oseltamivir, 3000 N-95 masks and 9500 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the affected states while it was also maintaining an emergency stock of Oseltamivir drug to meet any sudden requirement.
“In addition, we have in stock 10,000 N-95 masks and sufficient number of PPE. To guide and assist the state governments, teams from the Ministry have been sent to Telangana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh,” Nadda said.