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841 deaths so far due to swine flu, over 14000 affected: Nadda

841 deaths so far due to swine flu, over 14000 affected: Nadda
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Health Minister J P Nadda in his statement in both the Houses of Parliament regarding Outbreak of H1N1 Seasonal Influenza made it clear that the cases of Influenza A currently being reported are of H1N1 which is the same virus which took a huge toll during 2009 and there is "no mutation" in the virus.

He said that Oseltamivir drug used during the time of pandemic 2009-2010 remains effective for treatment now as well.

"It has been confirmed, both by National Institute of Virology (under ICMR) and National Centre for Diseases Control, (Delhi) that the cases of Influenza A currently being reported are of H1N1.

"It is the same virus of 2009 and there is no mutation in the virus. Consequently, the drug Oseltamivir used during the time of pandemic 2009-2010 remains effective for treatment now also," he said in the statement amid fears that the virus might have mutated.

He said in the current year, from January 1 till February 22, 2015, the number of cases reported by the states are 14673 while the number of deaths for the same period are 841.

He said that the number of reported cases in 2009 were 27236 and in 2010 the cases were 20604. The number of deaths in 2009 were 981 and in 2010 the deaths increased to 1763.

"The situation is being closely monitored by us and all necessary assistance is being provided to the states. Adequate stocks of medicine, masks and PPE are available. No efforts will be spared for effectively dealing with the situation," Nadda said in his statement.

Nadda said that his Ministry was "concerned" about certain media reports informing that very high rates were being charged by certain private laboratories.

"The Director General of Health Services has advised the concerned state government to ensure that the private laboratories do not charge high rates. Rather the rates should be fixed by the state government," he said.

He said that the laboratory network of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme and Indian Council of Medical Research comprising 21 laboratories across different parts of India is providing free testing facilities for Influenza A H1N1.

"These laboratories have sufficient capacity and availability of diagnostic materials. The position is being constantly monitored.

"Orders have been placed already for procurement of additional quantity of reagents. The affected States have further supplemented these efforts by authorising private diagnostic laboratories for conducting tests," he said.

Addressing apprehensions about increasing awareness among the general public, Nadda said that states have been undertaking massive Information -Education -Communication (IEC) campaign using different media.

"Advertisements placed by us in print media were published on regular basis in more than 200 newspapers in January and February this year all over the country. These also included advertisements in vernacular languages. Radio and television are also being used for information dissemination. States have been advised already to scale up IEC activities," he said.

He said that the influenza is caused by virus of three types A, B and C. It is the type A virus which has caused major pandemics and epidemics across the globe. This is because influenza A type of virus has the tendency to undergo mutation against which the affected population may not have sufficient immunity.

"The subtypes of Influenza A virus include H1N1, H2N2 and H3N2. While declaring the pandemic to be over in August 2010, WHO had conveyed that the pandemic H1N1 virus would continue to circulate as a seasonal influenza virus for some years to come," Nadda said.

He said that video conferences for review with the states are being held at the level of Health Ministry Secretary and other senior officers while the Cabinet Secretary had also held a such a video conference with chief secretaries of the affected states to ascertain the difficulties and assess the requirements.
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