M A I N   N E W S

Panic in Pune as 3 more test +ve
Frantic rush at H1N1 testing facility; 2 fresh cases in Punjab
Shiv Kumar & Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service


  Protect children as they comprise 48 pc of total cases in the country.

  Consult government doctor if the child has fever, sore throat, body aches.

  Only government facilities are authorised to test swine flu.

  Child will be isolated only if the test report is positive; Tamiflu, the anti-viral drug for swine flu, is available only with government doctors, not with chemists.

  Don’t go for rapid screening.

  Protect yourself with special N-95 masks in high-risk zones.

Mumbai/New Delhi, August 5
Panic gripped Pune on Wednesday as three more persons tested positive for swine flu in the city even as the national count rose to 596.

Of the 22 fresh cases that came to light across the country today, five were reported in Delhi, four in Mumbai, three each in Gurgaon and Pune and one each in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Jamshedpur, Chennai, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur.

In panic-struck Pune, a long queue could be seen outside the government-run Naidu Hospital from early morning, the residents waiting for their turn to get tested for the A-H1N1 virus. A city girl, Rida Shaikh (14), became the first Indian victim of swine flu on Monday.

Today as well, most of the cases that tested positive were students, as per health officials, one of them being an eight-year-old who had recently returned from abroad and another an IT professional just back from Germany.

The situation at the Pune hospital was such tense that police had to be called in, as the crowd grew restive demanding the process be expedited. “We have brought in 15 doctors to see the patients and swabs from all suspected H1N1 virus cases are being sent to the National Institute of Virology,” an official at the Naidu Hospital told The Tribune.

As per police estimates, nearly a thousand persons had rushed to the hospital. The administration, on its part, has set up a helpline for the locals to report suspected swine flu cases. Also, it has cautioned the locals against panicking as most of those who rushed to the hospital neither had any symptoms of swine flu nor had they travelled abroad. Even on Pune's roads, locals were seen wearing surgical masks or handkerchiefs in some cases.

In Chennai, the virus has been reported in a two-year-old boy who travelled from Australia via Singapore, reaching Chennai on August 4. He is the youngest to be infected so far, with reports that the flu virus is attacking children more.

The Punjab cases involve people who imported the infection and were found symptomatic at the airports before being hospitalised.

Meanwhile, the Union government has said it was ready to deal with any situation. It also stressed the need for essential testing, saying the same would be done at the discretion of government doctors at designated hospitals and not at the discretion of private healthcare providers.

While altering the Influenza A H1N1 guidelines, to relax them in the wake anticipated seasonal flu load, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had yesterday said each swine flu test cost the government somewhere around Rs 10,000.

But government today clarified that high cost did not mean the country was not equipped with testing facilities and equipment. “By saying there is certain cost associated with testing, we don’t mean that there is a shortage. There is no shortage of testing material and adequate care has been taken to ensure future supply of testing material,” Health Secretary Naresh Dayal said today.

The government said there was nothing called ‘privileged testing’ and everyone was being treated equally in the disease management.

Experts tracking Reida’s infection

With government not ruling out the possibility of Reida Shaikh having contracted the swine flu virus when she visited a private healthcare facility in Pune, questions are being raised how safe were such hospitals. A central team that is in Pune to investigate the case today met private doctors who attended upon Reida during her illness. Pune’s nodal officer for managing swine flu said investigations were on and report would soon be submitted to the Centre soon.



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