The city’s Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Zagade said here on Friday that a second wave of the H1N1 virus had neither arrived in the city nor was it expected to arrive.
Speaking to journalists, Mr. Zagade clarified that his assessment was not based on any scientific study. “We don’t think there is going to be any second wave of the swine flu virus. But we are going to be prepared if it does come. If you want peace, you have to be prepared for war,” he said.
Mr. Zagade gave a break-up of the swine flu deaths that took place within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits to prove that swine flu had almost been eradicated from the city. “The first death in the city, that of Reeda Shaikh, took place on August 3,” he said. “There were 31 deaths between August 3 and September 3; 14 deaths till October 3; and just three deaths in the next one-month period till November 3.”
“From November 16 to 30, there will be a first round of door-to-door surveys in slum pockets to create awareness and check for symptoms amongst the family members,” he said. “A second round will be conducted from December 3 to 14.”
Additionally, he would conduct a meeting with the heads of schools in the city to once again reinforce the necessity for school authorities to look for symptoms amongst children every day. There would be a training session for the health officials at the 53 screening centres in the city, on screening patients. The PMC would also conduct meetings with private practitioners at the ward level.
He also said budgetary allocation for setting up more Intensive Care Units at PMC-run hospitals was being worked out.
Warned against delays
Mr. Zagade repeatedly warned against delaying reporting H1N1-like symptoms. “Most of the deaths were caused by pure negligence,” he said. Citing a study conducted by the School of Health Sciences of the University of Pune, Additional Municipal Commissioner M.S. Devnikar said 60 per cent of the deaths had taken place in the 16-65 age group despite being considered healthy. “Most people don’t get themselves home-quarantined when they show symptoms,” he said.
“According to the study, 80 per cent people did not even observe basic precautionary measures like washing their hands after sneezing or coughing.”
There have been 210 deaths in Maharashtra so far. Of these, 171 were in the 16-65 age group. In 151 cases, the time-lag between onset of illness and admission to a hospital was four days or more.
Surprisingly, however, in the case of 126 deaths, there was no associated illness in the patient.
Citing the same study, Mr. Devnikar congratulated the media for creating awareness amongst the people about the infection. Eighty-five per cent of the people surveyed had credited the media with having conveyed information about the infection to them.