Swine flu scare grips Pune, people throng testing centre

Swine flu scare grips Pune, people throng testing centre


Indians wearing protective masks stand in a queue as they wait to be tested for the A(H1N1) virus - swine flu - at the Naidu hospital in Pune.AFP

Serpentine queues of people wearing handgloves and sergical masks were seen outside the Naidu Hospital. A scuffle broke out in the crowd as people jostled to get themselves checked by doctors to prevent the disease.

"Yes, hundreds of people came to our hospital. Since Tuesday evening, there is a rush," said Sanjay Walehker, an official at the epidemic helpline in the Naidu Hospital.

"Till afternoon today, more than 500 people have visited us. They are not patients but are scared of swine flu. Most of them are suffering from normal flu as it is the rainy season. They voluntarily came for testing," Walehker said.

Another official at the hospital said there was chaos in the morning as the hospital authorities were not prepared to handle  such a huge number of people. Nurses, paramedics and doctors were swamped by patients.
"We have now deployed around 15 doctors to take care of the voluntary patients," the official said.

Police were also called in to control the crowds outside the hospital. Policemen were seen patrolling the streets leading to the hospital, wearing masks and handgloves.
Rida Shaikh, 14, died at the Jehangir Hospital in Pune Monday. She was suffering from the influenza A(H1N1) for almost a fortnight, but was not diagnosed on time. Her parents allege that her death was due to "delayed treatment" and it is a case of medical negligence on the part of the private hospital where she was admitted.

The Maharashtra government has already declared the Pune-Satara belt of the state pandemic hit as over 150 people have been diagnosed there with swine flu. Pune, known as an educational hub across the country, has alone registered 113 cases, of which at least 75 are school students.
Till Tuesday India had reported 574 cases of swine flu. Of them  over 470 have already been discharged from hospitals.
Walehker said there is a panic in parts of the city after the schoolgirl died - the first swine flu death in the country.

"There is a scare in parts of the city, mainly in the Cantonment area where the Naidu Hospital is located. Students are certainly scared after the incident," Pankaj Bedi, an NGO worker, told IANS. Rida Shaikh was a resident of the Cantonment area.
"Yes, it's a concern but all are not scared as shown on some TV channels," he added.

Concerned over the first swine flu death in the country, the health ministry has issued a fresh set of guidelines. The revised guidelines followed fears that people would be kept in isolation wards in hospitals for treatment.
"In case the patient decides for home isolation, he or she would be provided with detailed guidelines to be followed by the entire household," Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary of health, said Tuesday.

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