841 deaths due to swine flu, matter of great concern: Govt

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New Delhi, Feb 24: 841 people have died in the country due to swine flu since January 1 this year, which is a matter of "great concern" and the situation is being monitored closely, the government told Parliament today.

Making a statement, Health Minister J P Nadda said from January 1 till February 22, the number of swine flu cases reported by the states stand at 14673.

H1N1

"The number of deaths for the same period are 841," he said. The Minister rejected suggestions about shortages of Oseltamivir, drug used for treating Influenza A H1N1 or swine flu, and said it is manufactured in India.

"We have held meetings with the manufacturers on two occasions. These indigenous manufacturers have confirmed that they have sufficient capacity and stock of active pharmaceutical ingredients to meet requirements," he said.

He said the drug, however, cannot be sold over the counter and has to be made available only against prescription and sold through a chemist with license under Schedule X of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

"We cannot afford a situation where due to irrational use of the drug, resistance is developed, rendering the drug incapable of fighting the virus. However, to ensure that general public requiring the drug does not face any inconvenience, we have advised the state governments to review the locations of the Schedule X pharmacies and issue fresh licenses for under-represented or not represented locations," he said.

Nadda said his ministry is closely monitoring the situation and is in regular contact with the affected states.

"...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. We are, on a regular basis, ascertaining from the state governments regarding the stock position...We have already supplied to the affected states 58,000 capsules of Oseltamivir, 3000 N-95 masks and 9500 Personal Protective Equipment," he said.

PTI

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