India steps up flu surveillance as five new cases reported (Lead)

May 4th, 2009 - 11:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) India Monday intensified measures to tackle any possible swine flu case from entering the country by beefing surveillance at border road posts, as five more people arriving from abroad were quarantined with suspected flu symptoms.
Addressing media persons here, Joint Secretary in the health ministry Vineet Chawdhry said five more people - all Indians - with suspected swine flu symptoms were being screened, including two in Kochi in Kerala. He said as of now, no confirmed case has been reported in India.

Health authorities have so far collected 15 samples of suspected flu cases, of which 12 have been found negative.

“A total of 41,498 air passengers have been screened so far, and around 8,353 passengers were from affected countries. 172 doctors and 82 paramedics have been deployed to man 61 counters at 21 airports across the country,” Chawdhry said.

On the plan to intensify surveillance on border roads, he said: “We are planning to introduce screening on road checkposts in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. We have information that about 84 people from affected countries had come to India by road in the last one week. We are tracking them.” But he declined to name the countries the people had come from or their identities.

“As of today, five people are under observation. None of them is foreigner. They are all Indians. While three of them have been admitted to Delhi government hospitals, two are in Kochi,” the official said.

Among the three kept in isolation ward in a Delhi hospital, one had come from Germany and two from the US.

“The samples of three passengers in Delhi have been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (New Delhi), and the test results are awaited while samples of Kochi passengers are awaited,” Chawdhry said.

He added that the two in Kochi had come from Dubai after visiting the US and Britain.

The health ministry is conducting parallel tests at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Delhi, and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, on all samples.

“If the number of samples goes up, we will send samples to two other central government laboratories in Kolkata and Dibrugarh (in Assam) for tests,” he said.

Chawdhry also said that the government would be able to get one million capsules of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu by Tuesday from Hyderabad-based Hetero drugs.

Eight million more doses would be made available in a week’s time, he added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 20 countries have reported 1,000 cases of swine flu so far.

Mexico, the epicentre of the infection, has reported 590 confirmed human cases, including 25 deaths, the WHO said.

Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar Monday held a video conference with chief secretaries of 17 states and reviewed the preparedness. The Director General of Health Services held a meeting with Director of Health Services of States/ Union Territories and discussed technical aspects including surveillance at airports, ports and community; laboratory support; sample collection and transportation, clinical management, risk communication.

The 21 airports in the country where screening is being done are at Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Calicut, Chennai, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Varanasi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Srinagar, Trichy and Tiruvananthapuram.

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