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New Delhi almost free from swine flu: Report
New Delhi, June 30 (IANS):
Published on 30 Jun. 2010 11:31 PM IST
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A swine flu death was reported in neighbouring Ghaziabad last week, and though the capital has been almost free from the virus in recent months, experts say it could see a spurt during the monsoon.
Delhi has so far reported only two cases in more than a month's time. Experts say the coming monsoon may see the spread of the virus.
"Hot and humid conditions provide a good breeding ground for the virus," Punit Kumar Pruthi, a consultant at the Asian Institute of Medical Science, Faridabad, told IANS.
The H1N1 flu was declared an epidemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in June 2009.
In advance preparations this year, India launched its first indigenous swine flu vaccine earlier this month. However, the vaccine manufactured by Zydus Cadila is not yet available in the Delhi markets.
"Swine flu vaccines are not available in chemists' shops as yet," said Kailash Gupta of the All Delhi Chemist Association.
Though the vaccines aren't available at the medical stores, despite the claim made by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Cadila chief Pankaj Patel during the launch ceremony, there has been little demand for them.
"There is no demand for swine flu vaccines; so we are not worried about the stocks. We have Tamiflu though," said a representative from a chemist shop, Chemico Chemist and Druggists. Tamiflu is the antidote for the influenza.
"There have not been any major cases of swine flu as yet; so the demand will be low," he added.
Asked about the unavailability of vaccines in the market, J.P. Singh, principal secretary (Health) of the Delhi government, said this would be looked into.
"We will check the issue," Singh told IANS, adding that the administration was fully prepared to deal with the influenza.
"All hospitals have the swine flu wards ready; we are fully prepared to handle any situation that may arise," Singh said.
According to the Asian Institute's Pruthi, the threat may be increased if the virus mutates again and becomes more intense.
"The immunity against the virus will be higher in people this year, but if it becomes more intense, risk will be higher," he said.
He added: "The H1N1 is a mutation of common swine flu virus; any further mutation can lead to the virus becoming either mild or more intense."
Since the outbreak of the epidemic in May last year, Delhi has recorded 9,700 cases so far with 95 deaths. Only two cases have been reported in June so far while one was confirmed in the first week of May.
Countrywide, 33,083 cases have been reported so far, with 1,584 deaths.

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