Dehradun: Uttarakhand has set up 31 temporary hospitals and trained at least 150 doctors to check any swine flu outbreak during Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious congregations in the world that begins Jan 14.
"The central government has already inspected the arrangements. They have also given us a truckload of masks for tackling swine flu during the congregation," Pankaj Jain, chief nodal officer for swine flu in Uttarakhand, told a news agency.
"The entire Kumbh Mela region - Haridwar, Rishikesh and parts of Dehradun - has been marked as a separate district and divided into 31 sectors. We have set up one temporary hospital with four doctors in each of these sectors with at least 10 beds. The government of India has also given us nearly 300,000 Tamiflu tablets."
The fair that will go on till April 28 is expected to draw millions of visitors from both India and abroad. The authorities said low temperatures and huge crowds may lead to a major outbreak of swine flu that has already killed 13 people in the hill state. Nearly 130 people have been infected by the virus in Uttarakhand.
"Over 120 doctors have been trained to diagnose and treat swine flu during the congregation. Besides, there are 12 others who have been trained to man Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and operate ventilators in case of emergency situations," said Jain, who is also the head epidemiologist of the state.
He said these 12 doctors have already been trained at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital in New Delhi. Besides, a team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had already helped in forming four rapid response teams.
"There are 19 members who will form the four rapid response teams. In each team there will be at least one epidemiologist along with other doctors."
Across India, over 26,500 people have already been infected with the contagious pandemic virus since the first case was reported in May 2009. Of the above numbers, over 1,000 have succumbed to the disease so far.
Jain said looking at the huge crowds they have now readied 1,000 swine flu sample carriers.
State health officials also said they are undertaking public awareness drives about the pandemic in the Kumbh Mela region. Four types of posters and hoardings telling people about the general precautions will also be pasted and erected in and around Haridwar.