India swine flu
Mumbai, India (BBN)-The number of H1N1 cases in the city breached the 800 mark on Sunday, taking it statistically close to the 2010 situation when a global swine flu pandemic was raging on.
That year, Mumbai reported 847 confirmed cases and 30 deaths, reports The Times Of India.
While in terms of fatalities the city is better placed with seven deaths this time, it has already reported 802 confirmed cases, that too within two months and a week since the start of the year.
In addition, another 13 deaths and 121 cases have been attributed to people who came to the city for treatment.
Experts are wary of equating the severity of the situation with the 2009-10 phase, though they agree that this is one of the most aggressive H1N1 bouts since then.
Officially, the virus has claimed 1,319 lives and affected over 25,000 all over the country since the beginning of this year.
Incidentally, the number of reported cases in 2010 was 20,604, while the number of deaths was 1,763. At the state level, deaths have been mounting, with another ten lives lost in the last 48 hours.
The cumulative toll has gone up to 221 since January 1. Besides, a total of 115 people tested positive for swine flu on Sunday, taking the number of cases to 2,501 in Maharashtra.
Former director of Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) Dr AC Mishra blamed the virus’s increased circulation on seasonal fluctuation rather than any change in the virus itself.
Also, he said it may be unfair to compare the current epidemic to that of the pandemic period.
“What started in 2009 and went on till mid-2010 was a global pandemic. We were fighting a new virus with limited testing facilities. Things are different now,” he said. “We could be reporting more cases simply because every state in the country is equipped with better labs. This time it is more about erratic weather, unlike 2010 when people had no immunity against the virus.”
But a senior physician associated with one of the public hospitals pointed out that while the virus was not capable of causing large-scale mortality, it has been responsible for many hospitalizations.
As of Sunday, 392 patients continue to be in various hospitals across the state, with 37 being critical.
BMC’s epidemiologist Dr Mangala Gomare said 40-50 patients test positive daily.
“But things are largely under control. The testing protocols were stringent then (2010). Today, there is a bit of indiscriminate testing and so we urge doctors to use the test only on those patients who need it,” she said.
BBN/SK/AD-09Mar15-3:00pm (BST)