Health Minister reviews swine flu situation in Gujarat

Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Tuesday reviewed the swine flu situation in Gujarat, which has claimed 98 lives in the state so far.

Gandhinagar: Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Tuesday reviewed the swine flu situation in Gujarat, which has claimed 98 lives in the state so far.

He held a review meeting with state Health Minister Nitin Patel and other top officials of the department at the latter's office here today and expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the state government in tackling the disease.

Meanwhile, with 10 more deaths today, the total number of swine flu victims has reached 98 in Gujarat so far this year. 120 new cases have been registered in different parts of the state, taking the total number of cases to 951 since January.

During his interaction with the media after the meeting, Nadda assured Centre's help to the state to control the swine flu menace.

"From the beginning, Gujarat government has been actively addressing the issue of swine flu cases. I have held a meeting with the state minister and other officials and found that they have charted out a detailed plan to tackle the outbreak. They are examining each case with scientific approach," Nadda said.

"My ministry is committed to provide all the support and assistance required by the state. We have also sent a team of experts here to help the local administration. For timely diagnosis, we will send more testing kits here," he added.

According to Nadda, swine flu cases might increase significantly in the near future, as more people approach hospitals for treatment.

"With the state government carrying out swine flu awareness campaigns even in remote areas, the cases are bound to increase, which is good in the sense that more people will get timely treatment. People must approach nearby hospitals immediately," said Nadda.

When asked about the steadily rising number of swine flu victims despite the state government's measures, Nadda said it was beyond anyone's power to stop the spread of the virus.

"H1N1 virus has now spread on a large scale. Usually, it remains active between January and March. It is beyond anyone's power to stop it. There is only one way to save people, that is early diagnosis and timely treatment," Nadda said, adding that research is underway to find out a permanent and lasting solution.

After the review meet, Nadda, along with Patel visited the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad and took stock of the situation.

Nadda expressed satisfaction that MPs, MLAs, local public representatives along with school teachers, anganwadi workers and ASHAs are supporting the awareness drive carried out in the 14 districts affected with H1N1.

"The awareness drive has been further intensified with special screening OPDs for those suffering from influenza like illness (ILI) at places such as mass gatherings, house to house survey and contact tracing by trained health workers in Kutch, Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara which share three-fourth of the burden of total cases in the state. More than 17 lakh persons have been covered under the drive," the minister was told during the meeting at Gandhinagar today.

While reviewing the preparedness in terms of number of testing kits, personal protective equipment, labs, anti-virals and isolation wards, the state officials told Nadda that they were conducting free tests for those suspected of H1N1 and seeking treatment in government or private facilities.

"At present, five diagnostic labs can test samples while a total of 1707 samples have been tested this year. In addition to the cases from the state, around 90 patients from neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Silvassa exhibiting symptoms of H1N1 have been tested and treated," the Minister was told.

The officials also informed Nadda that more than 471 beds for treatment of indoor patients have been kept reserved in various secondary and tertiary health care centers in state.

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