Pune: India on Thursday reported its 18th casualty due to the deadly H1NI virus as a nine-month-old boy died of swine flu at a private hospital in Pune. According to reports, the infant died at the Sahyadri Munot Hospital early this morning.
An official at the state swine flu control room informed that the infant had been hospitalised early this week with flu-like symptoms. In between, he had also been taken for a check up to Sassoon Hospital, which has been handling very serious cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.
The Sahyadri Munot hospital is one of the five private hospitals that have been allowed by the state government to treat the swine flu cases.
Mumbai Shuts down for 7 days
The swine flu scare has forced the Maharashtra government to order a closure of all educational institutions including coaching classes for seven days in Mumbai starting Thursday. The government has also ordered the closure of all cinema theatres for the next three days.
According to reports, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and his deputy Chagan Bhujbal had asked people to avoid a large scale celebration of all festivities in the wake of swine flu scare.
The decision was taken as part of precautionary measures to check the spread of infection in the state of Maharashtra, which has recorded the highest number of casualties due to the deadly H1NI virus.
The popular Dahi Handi festival, which symbolises the birth of Lord Sri Krishna, will likely be a low-key affair on Friday as major organisers in Mumbai and Pune have decided to call it off sticking to small prayer functions instead.
Major political parties like Shiv Sena, BJP, NCP and Congress have urged the people to enjoy the festivity of Dahi Handi festival on television in a bid to avoid coming into direct contact with people.
On Wednesday, six people succumbed to the H1N1 virus in India, including five from the same hospital in Pune city, taking the death toll in the country to 17. The sixth death was reported from Maharashtra`s Nashik town.
The five who died in Pune were Gautam Shelar, a 48-year-old driver, Nita Meghani, 50, Babu Genu Kuland, a school student, Sanjay Mistry, 35, and Shravani Deshpande, 29, a Maharashtra Swine Flu Control Room official said. They all died at the Sassoon Hospital, which has been handling very serious cases of swine flu in this second largest city of Maharashtra.
In Delhi, two children of Food and Civil Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf have tested positive for swine flu and have been quarantined at home.
Three other patients with swine flu symptoms have been admitted to the RML hospital in the capital.
With spiralling cases of swine flu countrywide, central teams have been dispatched to all states and Union Territories after Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad chaired a meeting of 35 additional secretaries and joint secretaries drawn from various ministries.
He briefed the teams personally on Tuesday before they were dispatched to the state capitals. While 14 additional secretaries would go to the big states, the joint secretaries would leave for other states and Union Territories. The teams would stay there for two-three days and would return by August 15.
Azad also spoke to all Chief Ministers and told them to step up preparedness. The Health Minister requested the Chief Ministers to chair the first meeting of these teams so that on-the-spot decisions are taken for swift implementation, a senior Health Ministry official said.
The Central teams will discuss with state governments new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with record to capacity building issues such as identification of labs for testing and hospitals in private and public sectors for screening, diagnosis and treatment of swine flu patients.
(With Agency inputs)