New Delhi: World Health Organisation (WHO) is "carefully watching" the swine flu situation in India with close to 15,000 people having come down with the disease so far this year even though it said that there are "no signs" yet of the makings of a large outbreak of the H1N1 virus.
A senior WHO official said the seasonal influenza was quite normal at this time of the year and that its India office was closely working with the Indian government for dealing with the disease.
"We are working with the government on this to watch what is panning out in India. So far, there are no signs of the makings of a large outbreak. But we are watching carefully," WHO Assistant Director General Flavia Bustreo told reporters here.
She said that in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa last year, "a lesson has been learnt that one can never be too careful and too cautious when there are epidemics that are appearing in countries".
She also urged the media to report "responsibly" on swine flu and said that it should not "fuel" panic as was done when the Ebola crisis started.
Health Minister JP Nadda today said that from January 1 till February 22, the number of cases reported by the states was 14,673 while the toll from swine flu has reached 841 in the country.
He said that the number of cases reported in 2009 were 27,236 while, in 2010, there were 20,604 swine flu cases in India. The number of deaths in 2009 were 981 and 1,763 in 2010.
The number of cases and the toll from the disease in just two months this year is, therefore, being seen as a matter of concern.
Government data today said that while 937 cases were reported in 2014, 218 had died from the disease. In 2013, 5,253 people were affected while 699 people lost their lives to the virus. In 2012, there were 405 casualties out of 5,044 cases reported.
"The situation is being closely monitored by us and all necessary assistance is being provided to the states. Adequate stocks of medicine, masks and PPE are available. No efforts will be spared for effectively dealing with the situation," Nadda said.