Don’t panic, India fully prepared to handle swine flu: Azad


New Delhi : India was “prepared at every level” to combat the challenge of influenza A, commonly known as the swine flu, and there was no need to worry, union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Friday.

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“There is no need to worry or panic. We are prepared at every level – state, district and block. We have enough stock of medicines (Tamiflu),” Azad told reporters here, a day after the WHO Thursday raised its alert against influenza A (H1N1) to the highest Phase 6 and declared it a pandemic.

India has reported 16 cases of the flu, including one fresh case – in Hyderabad — on Friday.

Emphasising that all the cases reported in India had come from the US, Azad said: “Given the size and population of the country, the number of positive cases is very less and the disease has not emanated locally. All the cases have come from outside, mainly from the US.

“Therefore there is no need to panic. The disease is fully curable and we have enough stock of the medicine. All the cases are being treated, five patients have already been discharged.”

Outlining the measures taken to deal with the situation, Azad said: “Sixteen more labs are being activated, 10 million doses of Tamiflu have been procured and the Rapid Response Teams are being trained at state levels. In future, these teams will also be operationalised at the district level.”

“Screening and isolation facilities were put in place well in time, all the necessary measures are being taken. I have already written to the minister for external affairs (S.M. Krishan). He has informed us (heath ministry) that the matter is being taken up through the MEA missions in the concerned countries,” Azad added.

According to WHO, 74 countries have reported 28,774 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection, including 144 deaths.