Amid the heightened risk of the H3N2 influenza outbreak in view of changing weather conditions, all the hospitals across Maharashtra have been asked to be on alert. In Delhi, the government has issued an advisory urging people, especially children and the elderly, to take special precautions and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.
So far, at least nine people have succumbed to the H3N2 influenza virus across the country, with the latest being a 73-year-old man, who died in Maharashtra’s Pune. The first case related to H3N2 influenza in the country was reported when an 82-year-old man died in Karnataka’s Hassan district.
According to data shared by the Union health ministry, 451 cases of H3N2 have been reported in the country between January 2 and March 5.
The Union Health Ministry has written to states and UTs and said operational guidelines for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of influenza-like illness or severe acute respiratory infection need to be followed.
The Ministry also requested the state to take stock of hospital preparedness, such as the availability of drugs and medical oxygen, and vaccination coverage against Covid-19 and influenza Further, the Minister has also advised doctors to wear masks since rising flue cases, including swine flu, Influenza A subtype H3N2 and Covid-19, are mainly spread through virus droplets.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Karnataka, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and Assam are a few states where influenza cases are on a spike.
Advisory in Delhi
Delhi health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Friday urged the people to stay away from crowded places over rising cases of Covid-19 and H3N2 influenza in the country.
‘Cases are fewer in government hospitals. 20 influenza cases have been found at Lok Nayak hospital and 8-10 cases in other hospitals. Beds were reserved during the Covid-19 pandemic. We haven’t released those beds,” he said while addressing the media.
The government also gave instructions to all districts for surveillance to monitor the cases of influenza and Covid-19.
Issuing an advisory, the Minister said, “Viral peak is common during this season. The current influenza peak is impacting those who have been affected with Covid infection. The Elderly above 65 years and children below five years of age need to be more careful.
The newly-appointed minister further said that the Centre has issued Covid advisory to six states, but Delhi is not among them. “However, we are issuing an advisory on behalf of the Delhi government that avoid going to crowded places, keep washing hands, and other preventive measures,” he said.
Bharadwaj also said that there are no plans to bring back the compulsory wearing of masks. “Soon, the government will start awareness programmes and will also create awareness through print, TV and FM advertisement,” he added.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will be held on Saturday and there will be a discussion on the spread of influenza virus H3N2 in some parts of the country, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
Asked about the spread of the virus during his visit to the Bhalswa landfill site here on Thursday, Kejriwal told reporters, “We are monitoring the situation. There is a DDMA meeting on Saturday and there will be a detailed discussion on this.” An official said the meeting was supposed to be held on Thursday but was postponed.
“The meeting is likely to take place on Saturday. The agenda of the meeting is yet to be finalised. There will be a discussion on the H3N2 situation and other issues affecting Delhi,” he added.
Maharastra in High Alert
In view of the rising H3N2 influenza cases, the Maharastra government has asked all the hospitals in the state to be on alert. Addressing the media after s a meeting of the Health Department, in the presence of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, Maharastra Health Minister, Tanaji Sawant, said, “H3N2 virus is spreading in the state, but there is no need to worry. People must not go in crowded areas, wear masks and maintain social distancing. H3N2 & Covid cases are on the rise again in the state.”
So far, Maharastra has reported as many as 352 cases of H3N2 influenza, which are under treatment in different hospitals, according to the Minister. Sawant attributed the rising number of cases to the change in the weather, which he said, is affecting health.
He also advised people to reduce going to crowded places and follow Covid appropriate behaviour, including the use of masks, washing hands and maintaining distance. “Consult a doctor only if you have a fever or any other influenza symptoms,” he added.
Madhya Pradesh Reports First Case of H3N2
The first case of H3N2 influenza has been detected in Madhya Pradesh, where a young man tested positive for the virus in the state capital Bhopal, an official said on Thursday.
The patient, aged between 20 to 25 years, tested positive for the H3N2 virus on Wednesday and is asymptomatic now, Bhopal Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr Prabhakar Tiwari told PTI.
Health department officials said he had complained of cough and cold after which his swab sample was sent for laboratory test.
The patient, a resident of the Bairagarh area in Bhopal, was not admitted to any hospital and is currently recovering at home, they said.
Patna reports 2 H3N2 cases
Patna’s health department has reported one case of swine flu and two of the H3N2 influenza, an official said on Friday.
Confirming the development, Patna civil surgeon Sharawan Kumar said of the two H3N2 cases, one is a four-year-old child from the city’s Sabzibagh locality. The second patient is a resident of Sampatchak.
Kumar said a number of cases of the two diseases have been reported since the last three days.
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