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Mumbai swine flu-free? Govt plays safe, says virus to be studied

According to city doctors and civic officials, the WHO guidelines state that if the city does not report a single positive H1N1 case for at least double the incubation period of the virus, then a swine flu-free status can be declared.

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Health authorities in the city are contemplating on whether the city should be declared swine flu-free.

According to city doctors and civic officials, the WHO guidelines state that if the city does not report a single positive H1N1 case for at least double the incubation period of the virus, then a swine flu-free status can be declared.

An officer from the state government health department said, “We are not issuing any such statement because a lot of factors go into the estimation of whether the virus is out or not. Besides, people will become relaxed and not take care if we jump the gun, and now that it’s winter, a season that is once again conducive to the virus’s growth, we have to wait awhile to see if the virus shows any change.”

Hospitals are continuing to send samples to Haffkine Research Institute at Parel.

Dr Abhay Chaudhary, institute’s director, said, “If we look at the H1N1 virus effect in last three to four months, there is a decline. It is not powerful and Mumbaikars do not need to worry. But they should not ignore symptoms of H1N1 and take all precautions like covering one’s mouth while coughing or sneezing, washing hands, going to the doctor if the symptoms persist.”

“We are studying samples sent to us by hospitals on a weekly basis, but the H1N1 strain is absent. Influenza B could be the cause of some of these ailments,” he said.

The BMC-run hospitals have, however, reduced the number of beds that was kept for swine flu patients. Dr GT Ambe, executive health officer, BMC said, “Apart from Kasturba hospital, there are no swine flu wards in other hospitals. It has become like any other flu now and not dangerous.”

Meanwhile, city hospitals’ out-patient departments are flooded with common complaints like sore throats, persistent coughs and body aches.

“There is no doubt that a flu-like strain is in circulation. Children are the worst-affected. There has been a 25% rise in cases of respiratory ailments in the past few days,” said Dr Vijay Yewale, convenor of immunisation committee, Indian Academy of Paediatrics.

“Flu vaccination is a good option for children above six months with pre-existing lung or cardiac problems.”

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