Azad announces measures to tackle spread of Swine Flu

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New Delhi, Aug 10 (ANI): Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Monday said that India is gearing up with urgency to tackle the spread of Swine Flu that has so far claimed six lives and affected 864 people out of which 523 have been treated and discharged.

Azad said that Swine flu is spreading rapidly and "we should be ready to handle more number of cases in the near future."

The Health Minister reviewed the situation of the Influenza A H1N1 outbreak in the country along with the Cabinet Secretary and other officials of Health Ministry today.

"Prime Minister is being apprised of the situation and he wanted the Cabinet Secretary to attend the review meeting which proved very helpful," Azad told reporters here.

"The Cabinet Secretary has decided to provide us joint secretaries and additional secretaries from other ministries who will be rushed to States along with health ministry teams. The senior offficers will visit each State and UT headquarters to assess the preparedness in the States in terms of isolation capacity and clinical assessment in different hospitals both in the Government sector and the private sector."

Azad informed that the government has decided to that the screening of international passengers would continue at the international airports, seaports and other points of entry on daily basis as this has led to detection of 633 cases.

"Four thermal Scanners had been installed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi on a pilot basis. Their performance has been observed and it has been noted that detection of cases through screening had improved from five percent to more than 20 percent. It has, therefore, been decided that thermal scanners for other international airports in the country would be procured and installed on emergency basis," he said.

The Health Minister also said that the national stockpile of Oseltamivir will be up scaled by another two crore capsules. The existing stockpile would be decentralized even further.

Azad also said that guidelines for approving private diagnostic laboratories for testing Influenza A H1N1 have been finalized. These have already been communicated to States, he said, adding that simultaneously wherever possible, the testing capacity of existing 19 designated laboratories would be doubled.

"To ensure availability of adequate testing reagents, it was decided that another 22,000 kits would be procured immediately in addition to the 27,000 kits recently procured. Simultaneously, the ICMR would examine the possibility of developing low cost testing kit, which could then be deployed throughout the country," he said.

Commenting on the issue of closure of schools, he said: "The issue of closure of schools was discussed. It was decided that this decision had to be based on the situation prevailing in the affected areas and therefore, it would be for the State Governments to take a decision about closure of schools." (ANI)

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