No swine flu case in India, flu medicine stocks being beefed (Second Lead)

April 30th, 2009 - 9:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) No swine flu case has been reported in India and the authorities are prepared to tackle any possible outbreak of the infection, the health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) stated Thursday as more cases of the infection were reported in the western world.
India Thursday decided to increase its stock of Tamiflu - a globally recognised medicine to combat avian flu - to 10 million and it will be made available within seven days.

“We don’t have swine flu infection. We are focusing on preventing the disease from entering the country,” Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary in the Ministry of Health, told reporters.

He cautioned that there was no need to panic. “We don’t need to panic but are concerned and have to take some precautionary measures. The government is monitoring the situation and will handle it,” Chawdhry said.

J.P. Narain, director communicable disease in the WHO regional office for Southeast Asia, said: “India has no suspect of swine flu.”

Narain also said India was prepared to deal with a possible outbreak. “India is very much in the forefront in terms of preparedness and capacity to deal with any outbreak. We have the surveillance in place.”

The Indian government has put its surveillance in place to check any infection from slipping in - at the international airports, at ports and from across the border, especially from the northeast.

The government has also stock-piled on anti-influenza vaccines.

“We have decided to upscale the stock of anti-viral vaccine to 10 million from 1 million. The government is talking to four pharmaceutical companies and medicines will be acquired on the basis of rate query within seven day,” Chawdhry said, adding that the health ministry is in talks with Ranbaxy, Cipla, Hetro Drugs and Roche India.

Chawdhry said health authorities had identified 50,000 tourists who have entered India from flu-affected countries like New Zealand, Mexico, the US, Canada, Spain, France and Britain and they would be screened. India has also included in its list citizens coming from Austria and Israel.

Asked about a suspected flu case, a 27-year-old passenger, who returned to Hyderabad from Texas in the US on April 28 and had developed symptoms of common cold, Chawdhry said an initial checkup found no symptom of flu on him. The case was being followed up.

“He reported to a private hospital for check-up where he was referred to a government chest hospital,” he said, adding that the man failed to report at the government hospital.

“This passenger has been tracked to his residence. As a precautionary measure, a team of doctors went to his house. He was found healthy with no symptoms of flu and is being followed up. His clinical samples have been taken and are being sent to the laboratory in Delhi,” he added.

He said it will take 24 to 48 hours to get the final result of the tests. “But the preliminary report has shown that he doesn’t have symptoms of swine flu,” he said.

“No other suspected case has been identified,” he added.

He said travelers especially coming from Mexico would be tracked.

“Our surveillance is in place and we have started screening passengers at the international airports,” he added.

The health ministry Thursday also held a meeting with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) asking them to put the swine flu treatment guidelines on their website for doctors across the country to go through it.

The Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi has been equipped with facilities to deal with swine flu cases, Chawdhry said.

Passengers will be screened for visible signs of flu like cold, fever and upper respiratory infection. If anybody is found with the symptoms, they would be isolated and put on Tamiflu.

The WHO in Geneva Wednesday night raised the pandemic alert for swine flu by one level to Phase 5 - second-highest phase. The declaration of Phase 5 by WHO Director General Margaret Chan is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent, but not inevitable. The phase is characterised by human-to-human spread of the virus in at least two countries in one WHO region.

The WHO official said there is a “strong signal that a pandemic is imminent”.

The WHO regional office in Delhi has stockpiled 3 million Tamiflu doses to deal with the outbreak in Southeast Asian countries.

“No suspected cases of swine flu has been reported from any of the ten southeast Asian countries,” Narain added.

In Mexico, the epicentre of the outbreak, there have been close to 160 deaths and nearly 2,500 infections due to the disease.

Of the infected cases, more than 1,300 are in hospital, but most have not yet been identified as swine flu cases. Apart from Mexico, WHO reported confirmed swine flu cases in Canada, the US, Israel, Spain, Britain and New Zealand. Costa Rica also reported two confirmed cases.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health |