India's government health officials say despite
the designation of a global pandemic for the H1N1 virus there is no cause for
alarm in the world's second most populous country. India has confirmed 16 cases
of swine flu in humans and there have been no reported fatalities.
Health officials are trying to assure the more than one billion people
in India they are doing all they can to minimize the threat from the H1N1 virus,
known as swine flu.
There has been no evidence of an outbreak cluster,
so far, in India. Government health officials say all confirmed cases of the
virus in the country originated from the United States.
Secretary Vineet Choudhary tells reporters even though the World Health
Organization has declared a global pandemic, raising its alert to the maximum
level, India need not be alarmed.
"There is no need to panic, certainly
because the WHO has based this pandemic at Phase 6," he said. "There is need to
take action. We have been taking preparatory steps and the government has put
into position all mechanisms that are required to tackle with an outbreak that
may spread in the community."
Officials say rapid response teams of
health personnel have been placed into position in seven cities around the
country so they can quickly respond to any additional cases. Sixteen new
laboratories are being set up in addition to two existing facilities.
Health Secretary Choudhary also says the country's stockpile of the
anti-viral drug Tamiflu is sufficient with 10 million doses procured.
have given an emergency stockpile to each state so in case a patient is detected
he can be straightaway put on treatment by the state government without waiting
for supplies to be sent from Delhi or elsewhere," he said.
banned sales of Tamiflu in the open market to prevent people taking it as a
preventative measure. That could allow the virus to develop a resistance to the
drug. But media reports say Tamiflu is being sold under the counter by some
pharmacists at inflated prices.
The Health Ministry plans to install
thermal scanners at the Delhi international airport to detect incoming
passengers with fever. The government also wants any travelers with symptoms of
the flu to avoid coming to India.