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Posted at: Sep 12, 2017, 1:38 AM; last updated: Sep 12, 2017, 1:38 AM (IST)

Swine flu claims 48 lives in two months, Health Dept alarmed

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11

The viral disease H1N1 (swine flu) has claimed 48 lives in the last two months in the state. Health Minister Brahm Mohindra has called it “a serious situation”.

The first case of swine flu was reported in July and since then, 193 confirmed cases have been reported. The maximum deaths have been reported from Ludhiana district.

The pattern of swine flu breakout for the past several years reveals that the cases were reported from January to March. This year till April just eight cases were reported, but the way the disease spread in July, it took the Health Department by surprise.

In 2016, 177 confirmed cases and 62 deaths were reported due to swine flu in the state. As per data of deaths analysed in 2016 in collaboration with the PGI Chandigarh, it was found that a majority of casualties due to swine flu were reported in patients having other diseases and co-morbid conditions.

It was also found that patients reported to government hospitals very late in the illness, whereas early initiation of treatment could save several lives.

The Health Minister said it had been seen that swine flu cases were being reported in July and August whereas earlier the disease was reported in winter months only.

“It has been observed that change in virus strain of swine flu could be responsible for this shift. This has led to acute rise in the number of cases of swine flu in country this year,” he said.

He said the department had procured sufficient quantities of drugs and logistics for the management of swine flu cases. He said the treatment was being provided free of cost to all patients in government hospitals.

The minister appealed to all doctors to categorise the patients and high-risk cases should be provided free treatment immediately without waiting for test results.

Late vaccination for health staff

Though the cases of swine flu are being reported since July, the Health Department has started vaccination of its staff only a few days ago. The situation has left a large number of doctors prone to the infection as immunity comes 21 days after getting vaccinated. Sources said the department procured vaccine in the end of August. It is being given to the doctors, nurses and sweepers who will be dealing with the patients directly.

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