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Like poultry, swine flu buffer zone for human soon
Published on 24 Jul. 2009 10:50 PM IST
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With the number of confirmed swine flu cases on the rise, India plans to soon stop mass testing and create buffer zones for human clusters infected by the influenza A (H1N1) virus to curb its spread -- the way it was done for poultry during the bird flu outbreak. “You must have marked the growing number cases in India. The influenza-A situation is going to worsen in near future. The government has drawn plans for creating buffer zones soon,” a senior health ministry official told IANS here Friday. “It was done for poultry during the bird flu outbreak (2006-09) and very soon infected human clusters will see similar situations. The plan is nothing but to curb the spread of the disease. In these zones, people will not be allowed to move out of the area and all other movement within three kilometres of the zone will be restricted. “These people will not be sent to isolation wards of hospitals. The entire area will be quarantined and all people living in that infected cluster - whether positive or not - will be under medication,” said the officer, who can not be identified as he is not authorised to talk to media. On Thursday, Indian reported 29 new cases of swine flu, largest so far in a single day, taking the total number of infected people to 371. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 700 people have died across the globe because of the disease and nearly 100,000 people have been found positive with swine flu. The official, who is involved in the swine flu control operations, said: “Looking at the current pandemic situation in the world and its spread, India is only expected to see a huge surge in the number of infected cases.” “You have seen students and travellers getting infected in groups. Once we see human clusters getting affected at a time, we will take befitting measures. We are also planning to stop testing of all suspected cases.” “We will test a few samples from a close-knit human cluster and if 55-60 percent of them are found positive, then the area will be quarantined. The buffer zone rules will be implemented,” the official added. In the buffer zone, authorities will provide Tamiflu tablets to adults and its liquid formation to children who cannot swallow pills. “We will not avail Tamiflu over the counters (at chemist shops) but provide them in plenty to infected people either through hospital or directly to the infected clusters,” the official said and explained that over the counter availability will lead to unwanted mass consumption. “In such a scenario, people may develop drug resistance to Tamiflu. Then the situation will be out of control. We are in talks with private hospitals too.”

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