New decisions for tackling H1N1 in India

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Indian Minister for Health and Family Welfare reviewed the situation of the Influenza A H1N1 outbreak in the country. The Cabinet Secretary also attended the review meeting.

It was noted that out of 864 number of cases that had tested positive so far, 523 had been treated and discharged. The other 341 patients are under treatment. There had, however, been 6 deaths ( 3 in Pune, 1 in Mumbai, 1 in Ahmedabad and 1 in Chennai)

The following decisions were taken:-

(i) 45,26,671 number of passengers have been so far screened at international airports, sea ports and other points of entry. On a daily basis, as many as 45,000 passengers are screened. Of the 4084 that have been tested, 633 has been detected through screening. It has, therefore, been decided that the screening of international passengers would continue at the international airports, sea ports and other points of entry.

(ii) 4 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 5% to more than 20%. It has, therefore, been decided that thermal scanners for other international airports in the country would be procured and installed on emergency basis.

(iii) The National stockpile of Oseltamivir will be up scaled by another 2 crore capsules. The existing stockpile would be decentralized even further.

(iv) Teams of Senior Officers from the Government of India 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.

(v) Guidelines for approving private diagnostic laboratories for testing Influenza A H1N1 have been finalized. These have already been communicated to States. Private diagnostic laboratories that fulfill these guidelines would be allowed to test for Influenza A (H1N1). This will ensure availability of additional diagnostic capacity in the country to test for Influenza A (H1N1). Simultaneously wherever possible, the testing capacity of existing 19 designated laboratories would be doubled.

(vi) 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.

(vii) 3 indigenous companies are already working for development of vaccines for Influenza A H1N1. One company has already commenced animal trial of these vaccines. To ensure fast track production of the vaccines, it was decided that the Indian Council for Medical Research would harmonize animal trails of the vaccines being developed by these companies.

(viii) 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. However, mere closure of schools would not solve the problem, unless the children restrict themselves to their homes. If they continue to move around and socialize, closure of schools would not serve any purpose. Therefore, it was more important that parents ensure that children who show signs of influenza like illness stay at home and do not socialize. This hold equally good for adults also.

Source: Press Information Bureau, India

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