India reports 31st swine flu case, wants US to screen passengers (Roundup)

June 16th, 2009 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Worried after another fresh case of swine flu cropped up, of a nine-year-old boy who arrived from the US, the Indian government Tuesday said there should be “some kind of screening” in the US for outbound travellers as most of the infection cases in India have come from that country.
The number of confirmed cases stands at 31.

The boy, who arrived in Hyderabad two days ago by a British Airways flight from New Jersey, has been quarantined at the Andhra Pradesh Chest Hospital, the nodal centre to deal with influenza A(H1N1) cases.

With this, the swine flu cases in Hyderabad have risen to 13, the highest in India.

It was exactly a month ago that India’s first swine flu case was confirmed in the metro.

In New Delhi, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said: “The US is the main source (of swine flu) as far as India is concerned.”

“In Mexico, when people leave the airport, they are properly monitored and screened. Similarly, Americans should also provide some kind of screening at the point of departure,” Trivedi told reporters.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has already requested the external affairs ministry to prevail upon swine-flu affected countries to start screening of passengers bound for India to cut down spread of the highly infectious virus in India, Trivedi said.

“The government is ready to handle the situation and there is no need to panic,” he assured.

Of the 31 cases, 13 were reported in Hyderabad, eight in Jalandhar, five in Delhi, two each in Mumbai and Coimbatore and one in Goa.

Of these, 28 people got the infection from the US, while one got it from Britain and the remaining were through human-to-human contact.

In Hyderabad, the patients include six children. A 20-month-old boy and a six-year-old girl who came from New York are among those being treated.

In Jalandhar, eight students, who were part of a group that returned from an educational trip to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US, have tested positive. Two more were hospitalised with the symptoms in the city Tuesday.

So far, 315 people have been tested for the infection, of whom 31 tested positive. Eleven people who contracted the flu have been discharged after treatment, a health ministry statement said.

The Jalandhar students were part of a group of 31 from the Guru Amar Das Public School that also included three escorting teachers. They returned from the US Saturday aboard a Qatar Airlines flight via Doha.

The officials of the US consulate in Hyderabad Tuesday met K. Subhakar, coordinator, HINI influenza nodal centre, and other Andhra Pradesh health officials and held talks with them.

The consulate officials also inquired about the condition of four Indian Americans, who tested positive for swine flu. The talks were significant as almost all the people found infected had come from the US.

On Monday, Health Minister Azad had said that “till this disease is not controlled globally, I would like to request young people from educational institutions going abroad to suspend their visits for the time being”. “They can go after two-three months,” he had told reporters after seven children from Jalandhar who had arrived from the US tested positive.

Union Health Secretary Naresh Dayal also raised the same matter at a high level forum on Advancing Global Health in the Face of Crisis organized by the United Nation in New York Monday. “…I would like to say that the developed countries would do a great service to the developing countries if they could contain and check the spread of infection in their own countries. I would therefore, urge them to take action to stop the spread of the infection,” he said in a statement.

He said India has three indigenous vaccine producers in the private sector ready to produce the vaccine as soon as WHO makes available the “virus isolates and the seed”.

A Swedish national was also quarantined with symptoms of the HINI infection in Bangalore. The Swede, along with an Indian, arrived from Thailand Tuesday.

In northeastern India, authorities stepped up precautionary measures against the spread of swine flu and also banned the import of pigs and pork products from adjoining countries. The northeastern states share unfenced borders with Myanmar,

Bangladesh, Bhutan and China.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which last week raised its alert against swine flu to the highest level - Phase 6, about 76 countries have officially reported 35,928 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 163 deaths. Most of these deaths are reported from Mexico (108) and the US (45).

The swine flu pandemic is the first since the Hong Kong flu pandemic in 1968, which killed one million people.

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