The Karnataka Government has approached about 60 private hospitals around Bangalore to start screening people for A(H1N1) as the pressure on the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) is high.

Speaking to presspersons here on Friday, Srinivasachari, Health Commissioner, said he had also asked them to have adequate stocks of Tamiflu. K.C. General Hospital, Indiranagar General Hospital and Yelahanka General Hospital will be screening (patients) henceforth, he said.

Mr. Srinivasachari also said that certified institutes of virology in Hyderabad had been asked to start screening people from districts such as Gulbarga and Raichur, as the pressure on Bangalore was increasing by the day. As of now, there are 18 flu testing labs in the country, and they will be increased according to the need, he said.

Speaking of the meeting that was arranged between representatives of the State Government and the Additional Secretary, Government of India, on Friday, Mr. Srinivasachari said that the adoption of the guidelines in the United Kingdom was discussed, which would result in administering Tamiflu on the clinicians discretion.

Talking about the first A(H1N1) casualty in the State, T.S. Cheluvaraju, Joint Director (Communicable Diseases), said that contact tracing had been made aggressive.

All her family members and relatives have been given Tamiflu and asked to isolate themselves. We have advised them to visit a doctor as soon as they show symptoms of A(H1N1), he said.

Testing capacity

Earlier, participating in an interactive session organised by the Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Principal Secretary (Health) I.R. Perumal said the Government was taking steps to increase the capacity of testing for A(H1N1) virus from the present 160 swabs a day to 300 within a couple of days. The capacity was set to increase to 500 in the next few days and was expected to touch 1,000 subsequently.

Referring to the death of a Bangalore schoolteacher, Mr. Perumal made an indirect suggestion that both the patient and the hospital were at fault. The patient went to hospital late and the hospital gave steroids for the next few days instead of immediately referring the case to us (testing centres). I will not say who is at fault. But I will leave the issue to your judgement, he told the interactive session even as he expressed grief over the death which, he said, could have been prevented if precautionary measures had been followed.

The official also observed that people were pressing the panic button partly due to the media sensationalising the issue and partly due to the lack of awareness about the epidemic itself.

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