The number of people who have died of swine flu so far this year is close to the number of H1N1 deaths in all of 2014.
According to Health Ministry data, 201 people have died till February 2 this year against last year’s total 216. Among the worst-hit states this year are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat in terms of deaths against the number of cases reported. Telangana and Delhi have the most number of cases.
Although community medicine experts refused to read too much into the figures, saying any scientifically acceptable analysis of the swine flu situation would need to take into account a comparison of the number of people who tested for the virus, the Health Ministry is keeping a close eye on the situation. One of the first major meetings Health Secretary B P Sharma took after taking charge on Monday was a review of the H1N1 scenario.
Though Telangana with 668 cases and 34 deaths leads in incidence, the situation is grim in Madhya Pradesh where a third of the 54 patients who reported this year died. On the other extreme is Delhi, which has reported 510 cases but only five deaths. In Gujarat, 42 of the 320 swine flu patients have died.
Health Secretary Sharma spoke through video-conferencing to senior health officials of Telangana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Officials said the states have been asked to intensify their awareness programmes to ensure that symptoms do not go undiagnosed or unattended for a long time. At a meeting Tuesday, all states said there is adequate supply of drugs but some like Rajasthan asked for more protective gear for health staff.
“There is no way to know why certain states have more cases. But what is certainly true is that in some the proportion of casualties is much higher. This is basically a function of awareness more than anything else. Take Delhi for example, only 1 per cent of the patients died despite a large number of cases, primarily because people are reacting faster,” said a senior health official.
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