In a shift of sorts in the seasonal flu pattern, Punjab, like several other parts of the country, is seeing a spurt in swine flu cases in summer months. So far, 58 patients have tested positive in Punjab in the past one month, out of which nine deaths have been recorded. Health authorities said that the virus is “active” across the country and not just Punjab. They added that nearly 16500 positive cases have been reported from across the country since July, which include 800 deaths.
Dr Gagandeep Singh, the nodal medical officer taking care of the swine flu situation in Punjab, said, “Swine flu cases started being reported from the year 2013 and we have seen this flu from November-March. However, it’s for the first time that the virus has become active in hot and humid conditions. Patients are pouring in different hospitals across the state and most of them are coming in severe conditions, rather than visiting their doctor at the initial stage of cough, cold and fever. According to our records, nine deaths have been reported in the past one month out of which five patients are from Ludhiana alone, while one each is from Faridkot, Sangrur, Hoshairpur and Ropar. A total of 225 suspected cases have been reported and their is a mad rush in the labs for testing patients…”
Such is the situation that Patiala’s Rajindra Medical College has exhausted its stock of testing kits and the lab is now waiting for kits from the Centre. Testing is only
being done at Amritsar Medical College and PGI, Chandigarh.
Talking about the rise swine flu cases, Dr GS Wander, a cardiologist at Hero DMC Heart institute, said,”We have started extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment for patients who have acute respiratory problem in swine flu cases. This treatment is available at 20 hospitals across the country and it can save lives of many.” According to Punjab Health Department records, Punjab in 2016 saw a total of 166 cases, with death of 62 patients.
In 2015, 278 positive cases were reported, including 57 deaths. A year before that — 2014 — there were only 3 deaths with 23 positive cases. In the year 2013, when swine flu was first reported in the country, Punjab had 217 patients of the flu, including 42 deaths. With seasonal changes expected to further fuel the rise swine flu cases, doctors have advised patients to seek medical attention at the earliest.
Punjab Health Minister Braham Mohindra said, “All government hospitals in the state are having isolation wards for admission of swine flu cases. We have necessary drugs and logistics for management of swine flu. Patients themselves need to stay alert so as to control the infection at an early stage.”