Perturbed over the swelling numbers of swine flu (H1N1) cases in the country, the ministry of health and family welfare reviewed the situation of the disease on Wednesday.

Swine flu is a respiratory viral infection with seasonal occurrences every year. According to the Union health ministry, in 2019 till February 3, a total 6,701 cases and 226 deaths have been reported in country. Majority of the cases have been reported from 11 states and majority of the deaths have been reported from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab. Deaths have been seen more in persons having co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension.

The Union health ministry has deputed a public health team to Rajasthan to assess the situation and assist the state in strengthening its response to the increase in swine flu cases. Additional teams have been sent to Gujarat and Punjab to assist in outbreak response.

The regular review is being done on a daily basis at the highest level and preparedness and response measures.

The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and its state units have enhanced surveillance for influenza like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).

The IDSP-assisted network of 12 laboratories are providing support in terms of testing, quality assurance, guidance, providing viral transport mediums and diagnostic reagents.

The laboratory network of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) (41 labs) has also been activated to test for H1N1 cases and beyond above laboratories support from the Union health ministry, states also have their identified state government and private laboratories for testing clinical samples of A(H1N1). In addition, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is providing diagnostic kits and viral transport medium kits to states as per identified need to be used in laboratories/ hospitals identified by the state governments.

Oseltamivir is the drug recommended by the WHO. The drug is made available through the public health system free of cost. Oseltamivir was also made available under Schedule H1 by the Union government so that the drugs are readily available to the needed. The drug controller-general has been asked to coordinate with drug manufacturers and monitor the drug availability in various states.

All the states have been advised to complete the procurement of the logistics for managing seasonal influenza A(H1N1). However, during crises in states, the Union government is supplying logistics (drugs, PPE kits, N-95 face masks).

“The health ministry has also recommended vaccination for health care workers and other priority groups. The guidelines for influenza vaccination have been shared with all states," said a senior health ministry official.