A swine flu patient died while 33 people tested positive for the Influenza A (H1N1) virus in the national capital on Tuesday, taking the toll to four and total number of cases to 154 this year, an official said. The health ministry however assured that the situation was under control and there was no need to impose travel restrictions. ‘Thirty-three people tested positive for swine flu and one death has been reported today (Tuesday) from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,’ a Delhi Health Service doctor told IANS. According to doctors, there has been a sudden spurt in the number of cases. In January alone, there was one death and 39 cases, while February so far has seen three deaths and 115 cases.

According to Delhi government, only 78 cases and one death were reported in 2012. Health ministry officials said the World Health Organisation, while declaring swine flu pandemic to be over in August 2010, conveyed that the virus would take on the behaviour of seasonal flu and continue to circulate for some years to come. Hence, in the post-pandemic period, localised outbreaks of varying magnitude with significant level of H1N1 transmission are expected, they said, adding there has been a spurt in the number of cases in Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab.

As the virus is circulating within the country, there is no need to impose any travel restrictions or screening at inter-state point of entry and railway stations, a senior health ministry official said.  The situation is well under control and is being monitored, he said. ‘A large number of these cases would be presenting mild influenza like symptoms and as such require no anti-viral drug treatment,’ he said.  ‘However, it is important to get oneself examined at the nearest hospital in the initial part of illness to detect moderate illness and other associated risk factors that require hospitalisation,’ he said. Officials said anti-viral drug Oseltamivir is available free of cost through the state public health system and a central stockpile of about 5.5 million tablets is also maintained.

Prevention

Swine flu isn’t a disease that you can catch from pigs. It is in fact, a human virus that spreads from one human to another. The virus is extremely contagious. Here are some swine flu prevention tips: 

  • It can spread through coughing and sneezing so always cover your face while doing so. And make sure people around you in office or home also follow this.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth too often
  • Maintain a high level of personal hygiene. Always wash your hands before or after eating and particularly after returning from a public place.
  • Sometimes virus can spread through droplets that have remained on surfaces of things like laptops, phones so avoid using someone else’s items.
  • Avoid public places, unhygienic conditions, etc.
  • If your city/area is swine-flu endemic, always wear a standard swine flu mask  in public places (the H-95 mask which is worn by nurses and doctors while collecting samples from swine flu victims). Normal surgical masks which sell like hot cakes during swine flu season might not give enough protection.
  • If you feel sick and look like you are developing a cold or fever, stay at home and take enough rest. Rest has also been shown to increase ‘interferons’ which help our immunity to fight the virus better. Keeping away from others also prevents spread of the infection.

Also read: Swine flu: All you need to know