Swine flu claims its 12th victim, 54-yr-old dies in DDU hospital

A 54-year-old woman, who was admitted at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in West Delhi, became the twelfth victim of swine flu in the city on Tuesday.

Doctors said the patient had died of respiratory complications associated with the disease.

Forty more cases of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, were diagnosed on Tuesday, taking the total number of patients diagnosed with the virus, since January 1, to 834.

Medical experts continue to blame the sporadic rains, and the subsequent temperature variations for the spurt in the virus this year.

A senior virologist from AIIMS said, "Every virus has a natural cycle of recurrence. In addition to this, weather conditions can become a trigger high humidity levels coupled with low temperatures help the virus grow and spread. Once the temperature rises, and humidity levels come down, the cases are likely to subside."

Unlike the last outbreaks in 2009-10 and 2010-11, this year, government officials continue to say there is no need for vaccination against the virus, except in the case of high risk group such as pregnant women and young children, or those diagnosed with co-morbid conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

Patients who are diagnosed with respiratory problems like asthma are also advised to take preventive vaccination, since respiratory complications like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), where there is a shortage of oxygen in the blood stream and lungs, are associated with swine flu.

Government hospitals are still to procure any vaccines this year. At a meeting convened by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit recently, instructions were issued to hospitals to ensure continued operation of isolation wards and ICUs equipped with ventilator facilities.

Virologists from the central government, who have analysed the prevalent viral strains this year over the last two months, have found that besides the H1N1 virus, which is the most common, H3N2 and Influenza B strains are also doing the rounds.

Basic measures such as maintenance of proper hygiene, frequent washing of hands, avoiding crowded places and using a handkerchief while coughing and sneezing, can help prevent H1N1, doctors said.

India will overtake China if we focus on education: Tharoor

"India will overtake China in another seven years," Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said at a national conference on secondary education titled "Is Secondary Education on Track?" at the Indian Habitat Centre in the capital on Tuesday. He said India has a large young workforce in the 20-24 age bracket, and that the country's demography is its strongest competitive advantage over developed nations.

"Our youth is obviously our key national resource. It needs to be cherished, nurtured and developed with vision, determination and engagement. To achieve all this, we need to get our education right," Tharoor said.

The minister said India's workforce aged 20-24 years will number 116 million in 2020, while for China, the figure will be around 94 million.

"This could be India's strongest competitive advantage in the years to come," he said.

He said while China and Japan are facing a demographic squeeze, India has 516 million individuals under 25 years, 225 million between the ages of 10 and 19; and the average age in India is 28 years as opposed to China's 38.

"Hence, India will have a more youthful, dynamic workforce, while the rest of the world is ageing. Within two decades, the average age will be 40 in the US, 46 in Japan, 47 in Europe and almost 50 in China, but India will still be at 29," he said.

Tharoor said that if the youth are not equipped with skills that the 21st century offers, the results would be "horrendous".

"We all know mobs, Maoists and insurrections are full of frustrated unemployed young men who feel they have no stake in society," he said.

He highlighted the importance of higher education. "Higher education holds the key to the country's bright future for creating a knowledge-based society. Government's expenditure on education has increased in the last nine years from three per cent of GDP in 2002 to 4.8 per cent in 2012," he said.

Vijay Thadani, chairman of CII national committee on school education, said dropout rates at the secondary level can be tackled by introducing more vocational courses, partnerships and greater engagement with NGOs.

"Our future administrators and industrialists must possess knowledge and skills for growth, but we haven't got everything right yet," Tharoor said.

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