Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday clarified in Parliament that not a single swine flu death had been reported in India till date. He said media reports suggesting that swine flue was behind the death of a person in Kerala on July 1 were wrong as samples from the person have tested negative for H1N1.
As both Houses of Parliament discussed the pandemic on Friday,with members seeking effective intervention by the Health Ministry,Azad expressed hope that a vaccine to counter swine flu would be developed soon. The minister was intervening in a short discussion started by Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit in the Lok Sabha.
Replying to a calling attention motion in the Rajya Sabha,Azad said the number of testing laboratories has been increased from two to 18 to intensify the monitoring of the disease. He also played down the incidences of swine flu in the country saying the disease was practically non-existent here as compared to other countries.
There have been 109 cases so far of which 70 have already gone back (from the hospital). Fortunately,no deaths have taken place in India, Azad said in the Upper House,adding that 100 of the 109 cases had come to India from abroad with the US alone accounting for 70 per cent of the cases. The minister informed the House that the country was screening about 45,000 people at its international airports everyday.
Maintaining that many of the incoming cases could have been averted had the governments of affected countries followed exit screening at their airports,Azad said he had held discussions with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to issue necessary instructions to the heads of Indian missions abroad.
Members of both Houses asked the government to take steps to control the rising incidences of swine flu in the country. While BJP MP Maneka Gandhi criticised the over-reaction about the swine flu disease,urging the government to control scare-mongering over the disease,her Rajya Sabha colleague CP Thakur asked the government to depute more doctors at airport for screening.