23 swine flu cases in India, health minister says don’t panic (Second Lead)

June 15th, 2009 - 8:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) Three more people were confirmed to be infected with influenza A(H1N1) Monday, taking the number of swine flu cases in the country to 23. However, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the situation was under control as 11 of the infected had recovered.
He also said people who plan to visit the US should suspend their plans. The US is among the countries badly hit by the virus and most of the swine flu cases in India are those who arrived from that country.

“Medicine is available in plenty and the most important thing is that this disease is 100 percent curable. Of the total 23 cases, 11 have already been treated and discharged. So you are only left with 12 cases,” Azad told reporters in New Delhi.

He said keeping in mind the size and population of the country, 11-12 cases were nothing as compared to the huge numbers most developed countries have reported.

Chairing a review meeting at Nirman Bhavan, the minister, however, expressed concern over the spread of flu to smaller towns.

His concern was over the fact that nine children from Jalandhar in Punjab were quarantined after one of their classmates tested positive for the flu and was hospitalised in Delhi.

The quarantined students were part of a group of 31 students and three teachers of the Guru Amar Das Public school that had gone to New York and Florida on an educational trip to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

A team of four doctors from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in New Delhi has gone to Jalandhar to oversee the treatment of the students, the minister was told.

Azad said the director general of health services should immediately send a Rapid Response Team to Punjab and make available adequate quantities of Tamiflu tablets to help contain spread of the disease.

Azad also spoke to chief ministers of all the states urging them to gear up the state health machineries to tackle the possible spread of virus.

In Hyderabad, two sisters aged eight and four, and a 45-year-old woman were late Sunday confirmed to be infected, taking the total number of cases in Andhra Pradesh to 12, the highest in India. The confirmed cases include five children.

The two children and their mother arrived in Hyderabad from New York June 10 by Indian Airlines Flight IA-140. Their mother is among five air passengers kept under observation for suspected symptoms of swine flu.

Doctors at the Andhra Pradesh Chest Hospital said the samples of the suspected cases, including two children had been sent to the NICD in New Delhi.

Health officials said they would also screen passengers of IA-140 who sat three rows in front and three rows behind the two girls and their mother.

The 45-year-old woman, who also tested positive late Sunday, is staying in the hospital along with her 20-month-old grandson who was confirmed to be infected Friday.

Authorities have also sent for testing the samples of the grandfather of a six-year-old girl who tested positive last week. He has been staying with the girl in the hospital.

Health officials said all the infected persons came from abroad, majority of them from the US.

Meanwhile, the state authorities are set to launch an exclusive interactive voice response (IVRS) facility on influenza A(H1N1). The IVRS facility will provide information and clarify doubts among the general public with regards to the flu.

The IVRS has been developed by the CEO of Voicegate Technologies Syed Mohammad, whose son Syed Rehan recently recovered from swine flu.

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