In the week from February 3 to February 10, 206 people have died in the country of swine flu, taking this year’s death toll from the infection to 407. In contrast, in all of 2014, 216 people died from the disease. The total number of reported cases in the country since the beginning of this year now stands at 5,157.
After reports of a high number of cases among doctors and healthcare workers across the country, the Union health ministry, after a review meeting chaired by Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, B P Sharma on Wednesday, decided “based on advice given by experts” to recommend healthcare workers treating swine flu patients be vaccinated. In the meeting, the availability of diagnostic kits, drugs and other preventive measures was discussed. This will be the first time since 2010 that healthcare workers are being vaccinated against H1N1.
“There were some fears in 2010 about side-effects of the vaccine because those were early days of the virus. Now the Drug Controller General of India has reiterated the safety of the vaccine and people understand that H1N1 is part of the seasonal influzenza cycle,” the official explained.
The meeting was attended by Director General Health Services Dr Jagdish Prasad, representatives of leading government hospitals such as Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdurjung, AIIMS, and researchers and senior officials from the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Most of the cases of swine flu have been reported from Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, while most of the deaths were reported in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana.
The Centre has already placed an order for enhancing stock of diagnostic kits to be supplied to the lab network under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme being used for testing H1N1. To enhance the level of preparedness, additional 60,000 Oseltamivir medicines (commonly known as Tamiflu) and 10,000 N-95 masks are being procured. In addition, NCDC has floated a tender for additional 10,000 diagnostic kits.