M A I N   N E W S

Swine flu toll reaches 12
Azad asks states to get into combat mode
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
As the nationwide toll of swine flu victims mounted from seven to 12 on Tuesday, a concerned Union Health Minister asked all states to step up surveillance and prevent the infection from spreading further. The latest fatalities were Sanjay Mistri (35) of Pune, Wilson Lucose (35) of Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) — first in South India — Arya Murale (7) of Vadodra (Gujarat), Saeeda (63) of Thane and Shruti Gawade (13) of Pune (the last two places in Maharashtra).

It was for the first time after swine flu outbreak that Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today spoke to state chief ministers urging them to gear up for combat operation. He chaired a meeting of 35 additional and joint secretaries, who would leave tomorrow to assess state-specific capacities, both in the private and public sector. Besides, they would brief authorities on the guidelines and protocols for private testing and hospitalisation. 

Also, the Centre has asked the chief ministers to chair the first meeting of central teams, which have been told to report back by August 15. During their visits, they would also discuss awareness issues and training requirements for doctors and paramedics.

“To deal with H1N1, we need to accelerate efforts to create a dedicated apparatus within the government and private sector,” the ministry said, stressing integrated management approach. The government has issued detailed guideline kits for all states, with the Health Minister reviewing the situation daily. 

A matter of concern, however, is that no Health Ministry guidelines have so far reached private hospital. “We must sit and talk now if testing capacity has to be created. We wonder what the government is waiting for as we are losing time… They should support us with chemical reagents for testing. How can we import them? There is limited availability,” a private hospital owner said. 

Meanwhile, the deaths due to H1N1 virus reached 12 this evening (in eight days), Sanjay Mistri of Pune became the latest victim. Earlier, Wilson Lucose, who recently returned from US and had been in hospital since last five days, — died today in Kerela. Among others, Arya Murale was admitted to a Vadodra hospital where she died today. With this, the Gujarat toll has risen to two, NRI Pravin Patel, who died in Ahmedabad on Sunday, being the first victim. Sources said Arya had no travel history and was brought for treatment only on August 7. Though her condition improved on Sunday, it worsened by Monday night. 

Earlier today, Saeeda of Thane died of the infection in Mumbai’s Noor hospital where she was admitted five days ago. Health Ministry sources say despite swine flu symptoms, she was not sent to a government facility authorised to treat such cases. She was eventually put on life support system on Monday night after her condition worsened. 

Today’s fourth casualty was Shruti Gawade in Pune, who succumbed to the virus at Sassoon Hospital where six others are on ventilator and three in the ICU. Of the 12 victims so far, three were children. With today’s casualties, Maharashtra recorded its seventh death, five of them in Pune alone.



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