Swine flu alert: Three deaths in a month

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With 60 patients testing positive for the H1N1 virus since January 1, against a total of four cases reported during the same period last year, the Health department on Thursday called an emergency meeting.

The department has instructed all government hospitals to immediately open isolation wards and keep dedicated ICU beds with ventilator facilities.

Commonly known as swine flu, the symptoms of H1N1 infection are similar to common influenza. But if diagnosed late, can lead to respiratory complications.

Three deaths have been confirmed due to the virus this year. The diagnostic results of two other patients, who are suspected to have died of H1N1-related complications, is awaited.

Health Minister Dr A K Walia said, "We have designated 17 government hospitals and five private hospitals to provide treatment for swine flu. Eight labs, five private and three government hospitals — AIIMS, National Centre for Disease Control and Vallab Bhai Patel Chest Institute — , have been authorised to perform the diagnostic tests for swine flu samples."

This was the third advisory on swine flue this year — two notices were sent in January.

According to Delhi government hospitals, patients had tested positive for the virus from across the city.

Government officials said of the three confirmed deaths, two were from RML Hospital and one at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. All three deaths were from acute respiratory distress syndrome, a common complication associated with swine flu, the minister said.

Dr Walia said since its was a seasonal virus, the intermittent rains over the past two months could have had a role in the rise in cases.

A total of 328 cases and 14 deaths were reported in the first two months of 2010, the highest in five years. In 2011 and 2012, only four cases were reported, with no deaths, in January-February.

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