No swine flu in India, says health ministry official

April 30th, 2009 - 7:20 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Apr.30 (ANI): A senior official of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday said that there is no swine flu in India, but added that should the virus hit the country, the government is fully prepared to handle it.

Vineet Choudhary, Joint Secretary, Health, told a press conference here that there is no suspected case of swine flu in India and that surveillance is in place at all airports.

Choudhary also said the ministry is in talks with companies that manufacture the antidote.

Earlier, the Government of Tripura had sounded an alert across the state to check an outbreak of the deadly virus, official sources said.

The decision to issue the alert was taken at a meeting chaired by Principal Secretary of the Health Department, Yash Pal Singh. Two health directors S R Debbarma and R K Dhar were also present at the meeting.

Debbarma said four district level meetings would be organised soon with the chief medical officers and other health officials for making people aware of the disease.

The announcements in India followed a World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that “all of humanity is under threat” from a potential swine flu pandemic.

The WHO raised the swine flu threat awareness level to 5 out of 6, indicating that the world is on the brink of a pandemic.

Holland and Switzerland both confirmed their first cases of swine flu on Thursday, bringing the total number of countries affected around the world to 11.

In Mexico there have been eight confirmed deaths from the virus, with another 160 suspected swine flu fatalities.

There have been 93 confirmed cases in the US, 19 in Canada, 13 in New Zealand, five in Britain, four in Germany, 10 in Spain, two in Israel, and one in Austria.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan urged all countries to activate their pandemic plans as she made the announcement late on Wednesday night.

Phase 5 indicates that there is evidence of the virus being spread from human-to-human in at least two countries in one WHO region. Phase 6, the pandemic phase, is characterized by increased and sustained transmission in the general population.

Dr Chan said that raising the alert level was a signal to governments, health officials and the pharmaceutical industry to take urgent action in readiness to tackle a pandemic. (ANI)

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