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Swine flu: Centre relaxes guidelines, toll 509
Published on 30 Jul. 2009 11:01 PM IST
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Two months and 400 cases later, the Union Health Ministry has issued relaxed guidelines to states to deal with the swine flu. H1N1: RELAXED GUIDELINES * Home isolate positive cases. Don’t hospitalise patients unless they are chronic cases * No need to shut schools that report swine flu cases * Isolating classmates of affected student is unnecessary * States should phase out screening of passengers at airports gradually * And suspect cases should first be taken to the family doctor; not directly quarantined in a government hospital The logic: H1N1 influenza in the country has gone beyond the containment stage which means you cannot contain the infection any more. So it’s better to get infected by this wave of the swine flu which is not so dangerous. People infected now will be immune to the next wave which could be lethal. “We recommended home isolation now since a lot of the flu is out there in this season. I feel that it is okay to get swine flu now. At least one can get immune for the second phase,’’ said Naresh Dayal, Union Health Secretary. States disagree as cases continue to be reported in clusters specially in schools. ‘’In India, are we ready for home isolation? Isn’t there a risk that they may not be able to follow all the guidelines strictly and the person may in turn infect social contacts, like a maid and she in turn would take it to a basti where density of population is so high that isolation is not possible,’’ put forth Dr K Subhakar, Co-ordinator, H1N1 Influenza Control Cell, Andhra Pradesh. ‘’We are going to discuss this matter with the Chief Minister to see if we could close all those schools for a week where we find any such cases so that the virus could be stopped from spreading,’’ said Rajendra Shingne, Health Minister, Maharashtra. The Union Health Ministry says that the time to take strict precautions is gone. It’s time to take calculated risks based on the logic of the flu. India continues to report fresh swine flu cases with 11 people including six children being detected with the virus Thursday, taking the total number to 509, health officials said here. At least “2,326 people have been tested so far out of which 509 are positive for Influenza A. Of the 509 positive cases, 365 have been discharged,” said an official statement issued here. The new cases were reported from Delhi (4), Pune (3), Kozhikode (2), Cochin (1), and Hyderabad (1). In Delhi, out of the four cases, three people, including two children aged 12, contracted the virus from a person who had the flu. In Pune, all the three cases - all 11-year-olds - got the virus through those who had the flu. The same was reported in Hyderabad where a five-year-old boy contracted the virus. As more swine flu cases continue to pour in, the government announced that two new health facilities, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), will also conduct the tests. “We have not stopped the H1N1 testing as yet. Apart from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, two other institutes including AIIMS have been equipped to carry tests too,” Health Secretary Naresh Dayal said. The other institute is the Patel Chest institute in the capital.

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