New Delhi: The swine flu threat persists for India despite WHO announcing the end of the pandemic, Health Ministry officials said Sunday.
"The number of swine flu patients is on the rise... there is no way our guard can be lowered. We have to be more careful," a ministry official said.
The WHO, which declared swine flu a pandemic in May 2009, declared it over August 10.
"The virus is active in most parts of the country and the toll is rising," the official said, adding "even WHO has said that the pandemic is over but the threat has not subsided".
According to the ministry, in the highest number of deaths reported of swine flu in a single week, 83 people died of the virus between August 2 to 8. Nearly 942 cases were reported in the same week.
According to officials, the majority of deaths being reported are of pregnant women and old people.
"We are now specifically targeting to create awareness for pregnant women, old, and those suffering from some other chronic disease as they are the ones worst effected," he said.
According to doctors, these groups are vulnerable as disease fighting capacity is lowered and any strain of the physical system may lead to a life threatening situation.
"The vaccines are advised for all. Last year, we did not have any vaccine for H1N1, this time we have two in the market already. It is suggested that the vaccines must be taken," he said.
However, the vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, who are one of the biggest casualty of the virus.
"Researches are going on whether these vaccines can be used on pregnant women. Some studies in US show inactive strains of the virus in vaccine used safely on pregnant women," he said.
For the time being, the government is following the policy of promoting precautionary methods.
"Flu symptoms should not be ignored and hygiene is another aspect. We are constantly giving advertisements in newspapers, radio and televisions," the official added.
Since the outbreak of H1N1 in India in April last year, 1,833 people have died so far. The WHO has reported the official global H1N1 death toll at 18,449.