11 swine flu cases in India; don’t panic, says government (Lead)

June 8th, 2009 - 9:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Hyderabad, June 8 (IANS) India Monday reported one more swine flu case, taking to 11 the number of those affected by influenza A (H1N1). Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said there was no need to panic as all precautions had been taken against the spread of the virus.
A health official said one more swine flu case had been reported in Delhi Monday.

A 35-year-old man, who tested positive for influenza A (H1N1) and is being treated, transmitted the virus to his mother - making it the first human-to-human transmission case in the national capital, the official said.

“Yes, we now have a total of 11 cases in the country. The 35-year-old man who tested positive Sunday has transmitted the virus to his mother,” Shiv Lal, the head of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), told IANS.

Chairing a high-level meeting with senior officials, the health minister said the ministry has made a “lot of arrangements” and “airport screening would be tightened”.

“There is no reason for panic because we have taken all the precautions,” he told reporters.

As more cases are being reported, Azad said the government had decided to activate 16 more laboratories to test for the swine flu virus in addition to the existing two in Delhi and Pune.

He said special caution has to be exercised as the infection has now, in one or two cases, spread from humans to humans.

“The health ministry already has the labs, but they are for testing different diseases. They would be prepared for H1N1 flu also and the lab technicians and doctors would be trained within a week,” the minister said.

Azad said that the government has sent a rapid action team to Andhra Pradesh where the first human to human transmission of swine flu was reported, but added that it was not enough.

“We will set up state-level rapid action forces of medical personnel to deal with the viral ailment,” he added.

He said passengers, especially from the US, Mexico, Dubai and Canada, are being checked at all the 21 international airports.

According to Lal, the woman who got the virus from her 35-year-old son, is in “home quarantine”.

The woman’s 35-year-old son had reached Delhi from New York June 2 and tested positive for the flu.

“He developed flu-like symptoms two days after reaching Delhi and tested positive for it. The man is on home quarantine and his contacts have been provided with medicine,” the official said.

Health secretary Naresh Dayal Monday said that there was no cause for panic.

“We have received more stock of vaccine from the World Health Organisation. There is nothing to panic about,” Dayal said.

The first human-to-human transmission was reported in Hyderabad where a 28-year-old techie, who was coming from the US via London, was tested with the flu.

He reached Hyderabad airport May 31, but he reported to the identified hospital with swine flu symptoms on June 1. He had transmitted the flu to his younger brother as well as a 31 year-old woman and her four-and-a-half-year old daughter, who were travelling with him on the same flight.

On Sunday, a 24-year-old software engineer, who had arrived in Hyderabad on the same flight from Philadelphia via London by British Airways flight BA 277, also tested positive.

He was the fourth passenger of the same flight to be found carrying the virus.

In view of four passengers of one flight being found infected, the Andhra Pradesh government has ordered that all the 231 passengers of the flight should be administered the anti viral drug Oscaltamvir.

The health authorities has traced all the passengers and asked them not move out of their homes till further orders.

K. Subhakar, coordinator of swine flu nodal centre at Andhra Pradesh Chest Hospital in Hyderabad said the latest case has been quarantined and is being treated along with five others.

The NICD has opened its coordination center at the hospital to liaise with the state health authorities.

The six-member NICD team, which arrived in Hyderabad Sunday, is monitoring the condition of the other passengers of the British Airways flight.

Of the 11 cases, seven are from Hyderabad and two from the national capital. Hyderabad also reported the first case in the country May 16. The patient was discharged from the hospital after treatment.

Andhra Pradesh Health Education Minister P. Sudarshan Reddy said every international passenger arriving at the Hyderabad airport would have to undergo screening before being allowed to enter the city.

The health authorities have so far screened 80,000 passengers at the Hyderabad airport.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), over 70 countries have officially reported 25,288 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 139 deaths.

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