The guidelines, which place patients in three categories depending on the severity of the infection, were finalised after a five-hour long meeting chaired by the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.

The Union Health Ministry late on Friday night issued revised guidelines for treatment of the A (H1N1) influenza patients in the wake of a large number of people turning up at the hospitals for testing.

In order to prevent and contain outbreak of Influenza-A H1N1 virus for screening, testing and isolation all individuals seeking consultations for flu like symptoms will be screened at healthcare facilities both Government and private or examined by a doctor and categorised as patients with mild fever plus cough and sore throat with or without body ache, headache, diarrhoea and vomiting as category-A. They do not require Oseltamivir and will be treated for the symptoms shown. The patients will, however, be monitored for their progress and reassessed at 24 to 48 hours by the doctor. No testing is required in such cases.

Patients requiring home isolation and treatment

The second category of patients in addition to all the signs and symptoms of the normal influenza has high grade fever and severe sore throat, may require home isolation and Oseltamivir; Children less than 5 years old; pregnant women; people aged 65 years or older; patients with lung diseases, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, blood disorders, diabetes, neurological disorders, cancer and HIV/AIDS; and those on long term cortisone therapy will be included in the second category. No tests are required for such people but they should confine themselves to home and avoid socialising.

Patients requiring hospitalisation

More serious cases have been put under the third category and will include those who have all the above symptoms and complain of breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, sputum mixed with blood, bluish discolouration of nails; irritability among small children, refusal to accept feed; and worsening of underlying chronic conditions. Such people require testing, immediate hospitalisation and treatment.

The guidelines were finalised after a five-hour long meeting chaired by the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. These guidelines will be reviewed and revised from time to time as per need and on the basis of spread of the disease. The meeting was attended by the officials of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Directorate General of Health Services, and representatives and experts of private and public hospitals. During the meeting various guidelines and protocols developed by the World Health Organization Geneva, Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Atlanta, U.S.,and the National Health Service, U.K., were also discussed.

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