In what is the worst H1N1 influenza outbreak in India since the 2009-2010 pandemic, Indian health officials now the death toll at 926 nationwide during the past 11 weeks.

Public domain photo/Robin klein
Public domain photo/Robin klein

Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare said the following at an address to Parliament earlier this week:

“You may recall that India, as also other parts of the world, were affected by Influenza A H1N1 pandemic in year 2009 and 2010.The number of reported cases in 2009 were 27236 and in 2010 the cases were 20604. The number of deaths in 2009 were 981 and in 2010 the deaths increased to 1763.

“It has been confirmed, both by National Institute of Virology (under ICMR) and National Centre for Diseases Control, (Delhi) that the cases of Influenza A currently being reported are of H1N1. In other words, it is the same virus of 2009 and there is no mutation in the virus.

“The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has been very closely monitoring the Influenza A H1N1 situation, Nadda said. We are in regular contact with the Governments of the affected States. For containment of the impact of this seasonal influenza, States have been provided guidelines on screening, risk categorization of patients, clinical case management and ventilator management. The drug Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is required for treating Influenza A H1N1. In addition, to prevent transmission of the disease to the healthcare workers who come in contact with patients, N-95 masks and Personal Protective Equipment are required.

Nadda denied media accounts of shortages of Oseltamivir saying manufacturers have confirmed that they have sufficient capacity and stock of active pharmaceutical ingredients to meet requirements.

Adequate stocks of medicine, masks and PPE are available, Nadda affirmed.

“To guide and assist the State Governments, teams from Union Health & Family Welfare Ministry have been sent to Telangana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.”

A massive Information -Education -Communication (IEC) campaign using different media is underway to increase public awareness of the viral outbreak. The campaign focus is on how to prevent the transmission of the disease as also on the action to be taken with the onset of symptoms such as cough, fever etc.