With swine flu cases increasing at an alarming rate in Gujarat, the state government has been forced to direct doctors to administer tamiflu tablets to any patient suffering from flu.
Even as Chief Minister Vijay Rupani visited civil hospitals of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot on Thursday, the death toll continued to increase. Ten more patients succumbed to the disease from different parts of the state on Thursday. With this, the death toll from January 1, 2017 reached 230. Out of the 2,272 cases reported this year, 857 have been cured and 1,225 are undergoing treatment.
Rupani, who was accompanied by chief secretary J.N. Singh, gave a slogan of “Any flu, tamiflu” after visiting patients at the Surat Civil Hospital. Health Minister Shankar Chaudhary was also present.
The chief minister said that due to the dense population, 68 per cent of the cases have been reported from the four big cities and hence he decided to visit the civil hospitals.
He said that considering the gravity of the situation, doctors have been advised to administer tamiflu tablets to any patient coming to them with the symptoms of flu.
The tablets, he said, were available free of cost at the government hospitals and that the doctors need not write the prescription in three copies. According to him, the tablets are also available at leading medical stores.
Dr Atul Patel, Ahmedabad-based infectious disease specialist, told THE WEEK that though any influenza is self limiting, a patient should report to the family physician immediately after developing symptoms of cough, cold and fever. Waiting for three to four days could prove detrimental, he added.
According to the doctors, the virus does not take long to travel from upper respiratory tract to lower respiratory tract and that is when the complications arise. This is more so in the cases where the patient has diabetes, kidney ailment or any other existing serious disease.
Unlike abroad, India is a tropical country and influenza is reported throughout the year, Patel said, adding that it has also lot to do with not being hygenic.
Some doctors feel that the recent heavy rains in Gujarat and humidity could have also given a boost to the virus to raise its head. However, there is no definite hypothesis for this.
Considering the nature of epidemic, Dr Dipesh Shah, Ahmedabad-based family physician, said that movements should be restricted to the crowded places and if necessary, schools should be closed for a few days. Dr. Shah, who sees about four H1N1 patients every day for nearly a week, said that the problem arises as patients do not go to the doctors on time.
Gujarat had witnessed the outbreak of H1N1 in a big way in 2009. According to Dr. Shah, there is also a need to create awareness about anti- viral vaccines.
For over a week, the government has initiated awareness campaign in a big way. This is through multi-media, door to door surveys, and print and electronic media. The campaign focuses on the symptoms and prevention and curative measures. It also specifically says that if diagnosed on time, H1N1 is completely curable.
With the increase in number of H1N1 cases, Gujarat has also seen several organisations providing Ayurvedic remedies at public places to increase the immunity.