VIJAYAWADA: After dengue and malaria, increasing swine flu cases create panic in the State. Seven swine flu cases were reported in the State in just a week — from from September 28 to October 4. The recent cases were reported in Chittoor, Visakhapatnam and Krishna districts.
As many as 110 swine flu cases have been reported in the State so far from January this year.
One person died in Chittoor district and another in Guntur district this week reportedly due to H1N1 influenza. However, officials are yet to confirm them as swine flu deaths.
According to communicable diseases report from AP CORE dashboard, 97 cases have been reported in the State this year until September 15. From the last week of September, new cases were reported from Visakhapatnam, Chittoor, Krishna and Guntur districts.
In 2015, the Health Department initiated moves to set up district-wise swine flu testing facilities and isolation wards in every district hospital. However, these measures remain on paper. There are only four swine flu testing centres in the State. Moreover, isolation wards in district hospitals are remained unused.
The State lacks the necessary infrastructure to deal with any swine flu outbreak.
In 2016, 11 people in State got diagnosed with swine flu and three of them died. The other eight patients were treated in the private hospitals of Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad.
In 2017, as many as 70 cases were reported across the State.
As per norms, the government has to set up special isolation wards in all government hospitals and provide protection and test kits to health care staff. However, only a few hospitals received these kits and swine flu medicines are yet reach the district headquarters from the Union government.
Speaking to TNIE, S Babu Lal, superintendent of GGH Vijayawada, says, “We have set up isolated swine flu ward with six beds. Currently, we are using it for other treatments as there are no fresh cases.”
Officials at the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL), Vijayawada, are complaining that the State government is not using their services properly. The VRDL has facilities to conduct real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), first such facility in the State and one of the few in the country such as NIV Pune.
Through the PCR, the presence of swine flu virus and rotavirus, which is common among the children, can be identified.
Most importantly, all tests, except H1N1 tests, are being conducted at VRDL free a cost. “For H1N1 test, the VRDL is charging `1,500. Majority of the private hospitals and laboratories charge over ` 7,000-10,000 for conducting basic H1N1 tests,” said Dr Saritha, senior research scientist at VRDL.