Transmission of virus still sporadic, no need to panic, say health officials
A 32-year-old resident of Ashok Nagar who tested positive for A (H1N1) influenza was admitted to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. He is one of five people in the State who were confirmed with having contracted the viral infection as of Thursday.
While a nine-year-old boy from Vellore and a 60-year-old woman from Tiruppur have been quarantined at their homes, a 19-year-old woman from Pudukottai and a 26-year-old from Tiruppatur have been admitted in isolation wards at the government hospital in Tiruchi and in Christian Medical College, Vellore, respectively.
IMA support sought
Health Department officials said the transmission of the virus continues to be sporadic and that people need not panic. So far, 49 cases of the infection have been reported in Chennai.
The State government has sought the support of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to conduct orientation programmes in all districts.
Around 750 doctors from corporate hospitals, Chennai Corporation's health dispensaries as well as private practitioners, participated in an orientation programme conducted by the civic body on Wednesday. At the day-long interactive programme, participants were provided with a CD on the diagnosis and management of the viral infection.
The programme follows the death of four patients in the State recently. They had all been referred to government hospitals too late. Health Minister V.S. Vijay told The Hindu that private hospitals had waited for test results before starting the patients on medication.
“Private hospitals treat this as common cold and fever. Once the viral load increases, it could lead to multiple organ failure. Instead, doctors can make a diagnosis based on clinical symptoms for the infection and start the patient on Tamiflu,” he said.
Of the 25,000 doses of vaccines received, 20,000 have been already administered to a high-risk group of healthcare workers. The government has also floated tenders and placed an order for another 55,000 doses, which are likely to arrive within the next five days, Dr. Vijay said.
All 124 staff members of the Communicable Diseases Hospital, Tondiarpet, have been vaccinated as they are in the high-risk group. Chennai Corporation is awaiting more doses to vaccinate healthcare workers in corporation health posts and urban primary health centres, said B. Mahalakshmi, director, Communicable Diseases Hospital.
Public Health Department officials said the infection does not warrant community immunisation. “There is transmission of the virus, and healthcare professionals are in the high-risk group. Genome studies of the virus have shown that the strain is the same as the virus identified in 2009. The medical student who contracted the infection is a house surgeon, and was not exposed while treating a patient for the infection,” said Director of Public Health R.T. Porkai Pandian.
Adequate stock of drugs
Following a meeting with the Health Department at the Secretariat on Tuesday, representatives of the Indian Medical Association organised a sensitisation programme based on the World Health Organisation's approved protocol of treatment, said IMA general secretary J.A. Jayalal.
“We have 140 branches and are working along with Health Department officials. The government has the required stock of drugs that are needed up to the level of taluk and district headquarters hospitals. We are collaborating with the joint directors or the deputy directors of public health to ensure that drugs are available to us. They have identified centres where A (H1N1) virus can be diagnosed free of cost. They will also visit our branches and address members,” Mr. Jayalal said.