With the Health Department having initiated the process of setting up swine flu testing laboratories in Madurai and Tirunelveli, these facilities will start functioning in 20 days.

The State Government had announced, after a review meeting in Chennai on Tuesday, that testing laboratories for A(H1N1) flu would be established at government medical colleges in Madurai, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli. “Formalities for providing the testing equipment have started and training is being given to lab technicians at the King Institute of Preventive Medicine in Chennai,” Health Minister M. R. K. Panneerselvam told The Hindu on Thursday.

Training in conducting the laboratory tests was an important component in fighting the swine flu as the tests could not be done properly if trained personnel were not available in government hospitals. The testing equipment cost around Rs.30 lakh and once it was available locally, samples of suspected cases need not be referred to the King institute, the Minister said and appealed to the people not to panic.

Officials in the Directorate of Public Health said that the Real Time PCR test equipment for carrying out swine flu tests would be given to Government Rajaji Hospital/Madurai Medical College and Tirunelveli Medical College. Adequate number of testing kits would also be made available, an official said.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, S. Elango, said that there was no increase in incidences of fever cases in Tamil Nadu, as corroborated through monthly data from government and private hospitals. “Our analysis has shown that 10 per cent of the State’s population will normally have common cold at a given point in time, of which half of them will have normal fever. These cases cannot be construed as swine flu,” Dr. Elango said.

Seeks nod

To step up testing and treatment facilities for swine flu cases in the Madurai region, Vadamalayan Hospitals here has approached the State Government for its permission.

Right now, the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) here has an isolation ward to admit patients suspected to have the A (H1N1) influenza. Two persons who were admitted to the GRH with swine flu symptoms were discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

Sangili Murugan (18), a student from Oddanchatram in Dindigul district, and Balamurugan (32) of Palanganatham here were admitted on Wednesday with complaints of fever, cough and sore throat.

Samples were sent to the King institute in Chennai for tests and the results are awaited.

“They were discharged on Thursday morning itself since they did not have fever,” S. M. Sivakumar, Dean in-charge, GRH, said.

Authorities in Vadamalayan Hospitals are of the view that private hospitals can join hands with the government in fighting the flu. “If the government gives permission, we will create an isolation ward and procure testing kits.”

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