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Rajasthan declares swine flu epidemic

Deaths in state cross 100; national toll above 400, with 5,000-odd cases since Jan 1

BS Reporters  |  New Delhi 

The government of on Thursday declared a in the state, with about 100 deaths estimated since the start of this calendar year, including of a Swedish tourist.

According to the Union health ministry, or has taken 407 lives between January 1 and February 10, with the total number of cases at 5,157. The earlier such outbreak was in 2009.

The notification could severely dent the state's prospects of attracting tourists this season. The other states severely hit are Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have also reported several cases. Close to 50 deaths have been reported in AP and Telangana.

The virus, which causes the flu, has a tendency to peak in the winter and rainy seasons. It is an when there is rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less.

The Union is preparing guidelines for vaccination of health workers in contact with patients.

“This is the after-effect of 2009. But most of the deaths reported so far have happened due to delayed referral and we are now advocating early-stage medication. All the guidelines are being followed, at par with the global benchmark. There is no shortage of drug in the state,” said Ashok Panagariya, head of Rajasthan’s task force on swine flu, over the phone.

The Union health minister has held two emergency meetings to devise a plan to tackle the disease, starting to cause panic. “Largely, the cases are from Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, while the deaths are largely in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Telangana,” stated the Union ministry.

Apart from the draft guidelines on vaccination of health care workers, the ministry said it had placed an order for enhancing the stock of diagnostic kits to be supplied to the lab network under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.

“To enhance the level of preparedness, an additional 60,000 Oseltamivir medicines and 10,000 N-95 masks are being procured.” In addition, it said, the Centre for Disease Control had floated a tender for an additional 10,000 diagnostic kits. A public awareness programme, also aimed to ensure against panic, is also under preparation.

First Published: Fri, February 13 2015. 00:29 IST
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