Five of six suspected swine flu cases in India test negative (Third Lead)

May 2nd, 2009 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) With four confirmed swine flu cases reported in Asia, authorities in Delhi quarantined six suspected influenza cases Saturday and five among them tested negative while the report on the sixth is still awaited, officials said.
The health ministry confirmed that there are no cases of influenza A (H1N1) in India. The virus is commonly known as swine flu.

“We have drawn samples of five passengers over past 24 hours and all samples have tested negative. One more sample was taken from an NRI from UK and the result will come within 24 hours,” health secretary Vineet Chawdhry told reporters.

“As of now there is no case of H1N1 virus in India. There is nothing to be panicky about it and we have our system in place to deal with any situation,” Chawdhry said.

Of the six suspected cases two were NRIs and all of them came to India during the past fortnight.

A man of Indian origin who arrived from London at the international airport here Saturday morning was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital with suspected swine flu symptoms. However, he left the hospital on his own despite doctors suggesting that he stay for three days, the doctors said.

The 35-year-old man from London was subjected to screening for influenza A (H1N1) symptoms at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA). He was found to have a running nose, cough and throat irritation. He was admitted to the isolation ward of the RML hospital, its medical superintendent N.K. Chaturvedi told IANS.

“We have collected his clinical samples and they have been forwarded to NICD (National Institute of Communicable Diseases) for laboratory tests. He left the hospital on the pretext of staying with his relatives in Delhi. We did try to tell him that the weather is very bad and he should stay in the hospital,” Chaturvedi said.

However, Chaturvedi said that the man did not have fever and doctors are of the view that he could test negative for the flu. The hospital has taken down the address where the man planned to stay and his contact details.

Another 25-year-old man from Texas turned up at the RML hospital Friday with swine flu symptoms after seeing media reports.

“The NRI from Texas landed in India April 19 and had fever for two days. His clinical samples have tested negative and he is in hospital for some other medical reason,” Chawdhry said.

According to Chaturvedi, the hospital is fully equipped to handle the flu and has a dedicated team of doctors to treat infected people.

“We have a full-fledged isolation ward with 30 beds. There are 20 doctors and 12 nurses on duty. We also have 1,000 Tamiflu tablets. If there is a shortage of Tamiflu tablets then the NICD will provide it. RML also has 100 medical kits which consist of protective gowns, gloves, eye-gears, syringes and scissors,” he said.

India has increased surveillance at all international airports and ports with passengers from swine flu infected countries undergoing mandatory medical checks.

Health screening of passengers coming from affected countries is continuing at international airports at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa, Amritsar, Cochin, Ahmedabad, Trichy and Srinagar.

“More than 20,000 passengers have been screened. As of now, no case has been reported in India, and we are fully prepared to handle any case,” Chawdhry said.

The official said 96 doctors have been deployed to man 32 counters at the 12 international airports. “Maximum counters (8) are at Delhi airport while minimum counters are at Trichy airport,” he said.

About stockpiling the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu, Chawdhry said manufacturers of the drug at a meeting with the department of pharmaceuticals officials assured them that 10 million doses would be provided soon.

The number of confirmed H1N1 cases soared to 615 on Saturday with the World Health Organisation reporting 15 countries were infected with swine flu.

The organisation had reported 367 cases Friday. The jump in cases was due to ongoing testing of a backlog of specimens in Mexico, the WHO said.

Most cases were in Mexico, where 397 people are infected, according to WHO. The US is second with 141 cases.

In Asia four confirmed cases of influenza have been reported with two cases in South Korea and one each in Hong Kong and Israel.

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