Swine flu claims 703 lives; PM directs states for proper treatment
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday has asked
health officials to ensure necessary treatment and adequate medicines for swine
flu patients while affected states have been offered central assistance even as
the death toll due to the disease reached 703.
A high-level meeting, chaired by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth,
was convened here to review the situation and address issues like shortage of
The meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee
(NCMC) was attended by chief secretaries and medical heads of Rajasthan,
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and
The cabinet secretary offered them necessary central
assistance. Seth told media after the meeting that the prime minister has given
instructions to ensure that medicines are available and patients get necessary
treatment. He said that quite a few of the deaths happened because the
treatment was not taken in time or screening was not done in time.
The health officials of various states informed the cabinet
secretary through video-conferencing about the availability of drugs, testing
kits, diagnostic labs, personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks.
Maharashtra and Haryana have requested for some medicines to
augment their emergency stock which are being supplied to them by the union
health ministry, an official release said here.
The cabinet secretary stressed that the states should ensure
that the outbreak monitoring cells and necessary help lines function
The drug controllers should ensure availability of necessary
medicines such as tablets, capsules and vaccines along with guidelines for
vaccination and treatment protocol. "Medicines are there to treat swine
flu, there is no need to panic," Seth said.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths due to the disease reached
703 and the total number of cases across the country climbed up to 11,071.
Thirty-two deaths were reported Thursday. The government had Wednesday issued
directives for health workers to be vaccinated across the country.
Randeep Guleria, an internal medicine expert at the All India
Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said: "There is evidence in India
as well as internationally to prove that health care workers are more affected
by outbreaks like this kind of flu."
“A healthcare worker can infect not only his immediate family
but also patients who have less immunity like those in the Intensive Care Units
of hospitals," he said.
In Delhi a total of 1,917 cases have been reported. The
government has added two more designated laboratories to test for the disease
and said the stock of medicines has been doubled.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said: "The
situation is under control as we have enough stock of medicines. The cases are
going down. We have all facilities available for testing and treatment. The
stock of medicines has been doubled."
"The virus has been in Delhi for quite a few years so
the people of Delhi have developed some resistance therefore the situation is
under control," he said, adding: "States which are new to the virus
are badly affected, but not Delhi."
In the capital, hundreds of patients in front of the RML
hospital were seen thronging the place wearing masks.
Chemist stores in the city have started selling the mask at
an exorbitant rates. As per the health officials of the hospitals designated to
treat swine flu cases in the national capital, the mask that cost mere Rs.2 and
Rs.90 were being sold at Rs.50 and Rs.350 respectively.
The death toll due to the disease has reached 90 in Madhya
Pradesh. Rajasthan recorded 183 deaths and 3,302 positive cases till Wednesday,
Himachal Pradesh saw two deaths while the toll in Punjab, Haryana and
Chandigarh is at least 45. A police official in Jammu and Kashmir died of acute
respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) Thursday and doctors are awaiting
confirmation whether he died of swine flu and 84 H1N1 cases have been confirmed
in the state.
West Bengal has recorded two deaths and 31 positive cases of
swine flu, while a girl in Nagaland has tested positive for the virus.