After two deaths, UP wakes up to swine flu threat

Lucknow: After two swine flu deaths in the state capital in the last four days, health department officials Saturday admitted that the state was facing acute shortage of Tamiflu, the medicine used for treating the disease.

The department, though ill-equipped to take on the disease, is slowly waking up to the threat, having placed fresh orders to obtain the medicine from Rajasthan, where it is reportedly stocked in a large quantity.

Confirming this, a senior health official told IANS that 30,000 tablets of Tamiflu have been sought on an SOS and they hope to get the consignment within a few days.

As of now, some stocks of the medicine have been delivered by the union government for use in the state capital, where two swine flu deaths have been reported from the cantonment area.

An alert has also been sounded in all major government hospitals across the state and orders have been issued to maintain vigils to track people displaying symptoms of the disease, which emerged as a major killer a few years earlier.

An emergency meeting was called by Lucknow district magistrate Rajshekhar late Friday wherein he asked health officials to sensitize people on the disease, especially in areas where patients had been reported from.

A rapid response team, he said, was constituted under the direct supervision of the chief medical officer (CMO) and a 24x7 control room would also be established.

Health teams visited Manaknagar, Subhashnagar and Hansnagar localities - the areas where two casualties were reported.

Arvind Kumar, principal secretary (health), however, confirmed that stocks of Tamiflu were not available within the state, and that once the delivery from Rajasthan was made, the drug would be distributed across the state.

What has also worried the health department is the fact that the disease is often confused with normal cold and flu as both the diseases exhibit similar symptoms. Over the last few days scores of patients have flooded the hospitals with normal cold and flu-like symptoms, fearing that it could be swine flu.

The state government has decided to undertake a publicity and awareness drive to inform people of the difference between swine and normal flu, an official added.

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