TODAY -
Swine flu claims 4th victim, Maha struggles to contain virus
Source: The Sangai Express / PTI

New Delhi, August 09 2009: Swine flu today claimed its fourth victim in the country with an NRI, who had come from the US 10 days back, dying in Ahmedabad while three patients were in a critical condition in Maharashtra which closed down all education institutions in worst-hit Pune for a week.

With a spurt in swine flu cases, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed the situation with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and asked his ministry to co-ordinate with State Governments on efforts to contain its spread and set up a panel of experts to disseminate information on H1N1 virus.

Praveen Patel, 43, died at 1.30 am at Ahmedabad civil hospital, the first to succumb to the infectious disease in Gujarat where so far 10 people have tested positive for H1N1, while his wife was also being treated for the ailment at the same hospital, state Health Secretary Ravi Saxena said.

With this, the death toll has climbed to four in the country with the first casualty being 14-year-old school girl Reeda Shaikh who died on August three in Pune.

Sanjay Tukaram Kokre, a 42-year-old teacher, and 53-year-old Fahmida Panwala, who was a diabetic with a history of hypertension, died due to swine flu yesterday in Pune and Mumbai respectively.

In Maharashtra, two 35-year-old patients admitted to Sasoon Hospital in Pune and a 28-year-old man put on ventilator at LH Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai were stated to be in a critical condition.

Several schools in Mumbai and neighbouring Navi Mumbai and also all education institutions in Pune and Pimpri have been closed for a week as a precautionary measure.

Grappling with a fast rise in number of cases, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said his Government was considering a proposal to allow private hospitals to treat swine flu patients.

Chavan asked people to restrict movement at public places and said a meeting of all Ganesh and Dahihandi mandals (organising committees) would be convened tomorrow to discus ways of minimising spread of swine flu during the upcoming festivities.

Lakhs of people throng the streets during Ganeshotsav and Dahihandi celebrations.

A police constable recruitment drive would be postponed in view of the swine flu situation, he said.

There are four screening centres and three hospitals with isolation and ICU facilities in Mumbai and 23 screening centres in Pune and Pimpri municipalities.

Meanwhile, 14 positive H1N1 patients were undergoing treatment in Kasturba Hospital and 45 suspected cases were admitted till this morning, the Civic Disaster Management Cell said in Mumbai.

The number of those infected by the disease was nearing 800 in the country with over 500 patients being discharged after treatment.

Union Health Minister Azad said each district hospital will be given 10,000 Tamiflu tablets, the only medicine against the deadly disease, on a priority basis.

Southern States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka have, meanwhile, put their healthcare machinery on alert.

Tamil Nadu has issued an advisory to people asking them to avoid travelling to Maharashtra unless necessary, while extending the screening for the virus even to the railway stations.

The deaths have sparked panic in the country's IT hub of Bangalore, where people thronged the referral hospital Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RICD), anxiously queuing up to undergo tests for the flu in the past few days.

The three States had reported 168 cases of the flu till last night.

The Karnataka Government has instructed over 46,000 schools across the state to include H1N1 flu screening in the one-month free health check-up being conducted under the Suvarna Arogya Chaitanya Scheme from Aug 1 .

Screeing continues in other parts of the country with two engineering students showing symptoms of swine flu being admitted to a government hospital in Jammu.

The two-a boy and a girl-had come from a vacation in Bangalore and Pune respectively.

Three members of a family were among four more persons who tested positive for swine flu in Goa.

The family, which had recently visited Hong Kong, and another man who arrived here from Dubai tested positive for swine flu last night.

With this, the number of swine flu cases in Goa has gone up to 11 .


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