Good weather now better for H1N1 virus to spread, warn experts

Vidya Krishnan  Posted: Sep 09, 2009 at 0328 hrs IST at EXPRESS INDIA

New Delhi The weatherman today brought in the good news: showers predicted till at least Friday, starting late Tuesday night.

But as the welcome showers drive down Delhi’s rainfall deficit further — it was 53 per cent in mid-August; around 20 per cent now — and the minimum temperatures to a comfortable 21-23 degrees Celsius, they are giving health department officials sleepless nights. As the temperatures begin to head southward, the number of cases testing positive for H1N1 influenza is rising steadily each day. On Tuesday, 120 persons were found positive — among the highest on a single day since May, when H1N1 flu cases started coming in.

The average in August ranged between 15 and 20 cases per day, before it began going up in the past week, Health Minister Kiran Walia said. Fifty-two persons tested positive on Monday.

Principal Secretary (Health) J P Singh said cases will continue to increase as winter sets in. “We were expecting a surge in cases but as long as basic hygiene is maintained, there is nothing to worry,” he said. “The increase in number of positive cases does not mean an increase in severity of the infection.”

Dr RP Vashisht, government’s nodal officer for the disease, said, “The virus cannot survive in the heat but as temperatures dip, it will become easy for the virus to survive in the open. So it will spread more easily.”

Health minister Walia said: “We have seen an increase in cases but by now people are aware of the procedures. Panic, therefore, has not gripped the public though positive cases have gone up. The situation is under control and the government is doing its best efforts in providing treatment at government hospitals.

The public must report to hospitals at the earliest if swine flu symptoms are spotted, she said.

DPS suspends classes
Two branches of Delhi Public School shut particular sections for the week on Tuesday after students tested positive for swine flu.

Four positive cases emerged from classes VIII and X of DPS-Dwarka, and one case was reported from DPS-Vasant Kunj.

DPS Society chairperson Ashok Chandra said the schools shut down sections in which these children were studying. “This is just a precautionary measure — classes will be shut till the end of this week,” Chandra said.

Among parents, while some expressed anxiety, others maintained there’s no need to panic. “I am worried because my child goes to one of those schools where students have returned after vacations abroad,” said Mehbooba Baba, whose child studies in Tagore International School.

But Shafat Ahmed, whose child is in Blue Bells School, said, “We should not panic at this hour — parents have to remain cautious, that’s the only way now.”

Swine flu update
994 H1N1 flu patients admitted in government hospitals till date
846 patients treated and discharged
147 patients still under treatment

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