Sharing of information on who has contracted the A (H1N1) influenza virus and how cases can be managed is vital to checking its spread, District Collector P. Umanath said here on Monday.

“Some amount of stigma seems to be attached to the disease because of misconceptions over it. Proper dissemination of information to the public will help remove it,” Dr. Umanath said after inaugurating an orientation programme at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital for Government and private doctors.

“Feel confident in sharing information. I have even told the Joint Director of Health (M. Duraikannan) to share information with doctors and also the media,” he said.

The orientation programme, organised by the Department of Public Health and the CMCH was important, given the drastic increase in the number of positive cases over the last few days, Dr. Umanath said.

Though the Collector asserted there was no reason to panic, he, however told the doctors: “This is a critical situation in which we depend heavily on government health institutions to treat the flu cases as private hospital may hesitate to take these up.”

Dr. Umanath told the government healthcare institutions that enough drugs and protective gear, such as masks, would be provided. He released a pamphlet on the flu and preventive measures, brought out by the Department of Public Health.

Dr. Duraikannan said the department had printed 1.5 pamphlets and these were being distributed among the public. He made a slide presentation on what caused A (H1N1) flu and how people could avoid contracting the virus. Doctors from the CMCH, Coimbatore Corporation, Employees’ State Insurance Hospital and private medical centres attended.

The Joint Director said doctors should advise their patients to follow good personal hygiene, such as washing hands often and sneezing or coughing into a handkerchief or tissue paper. The virus got transmitted from a flu-affected person through the droplets released while sneezing or coughing.

Dean of the CMCH V. Kumaran and Resident Medical Officer P. Sivaprakasam showed the Collector the protective gear, including masks.

Medical Superintendent of the ESI Hospital B. Mohamed Ali, Coimbatore Corporation’s City Health Officer M. Thangaraj and Assistant City Health Officer R. Sumathi were among those who attended the orientation programme.

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