With mercury falling sharply in many parts of Punjab and Haryana, there has been a surge in swine flu cases here as 38 people have died in December so far, officials said on Sunday.

“Cold wave conditions currently prevailing in the region have made AH1N1 virus more contagious and people have become more prone to swine flu,” Chandigarh’s nodal officer for swine flu H.C. Gera said.

Punjab’s Nodal Officer for swine flu Deepak Bhatia also said there was an increase in the number of cases this month because of the falling temperatures. The death toll in Chandigarh so far is 48. Fourteen died in the last seven days. On Saturday, six persons died at various places across the region. While one was from Chandigarh, others were from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Chandigarh’s Health Department declared the status of swine flu in the UT as “community spread,” last week with the number of positive cases having crossed 300. It said the infection was not limited to any high-risk group and doctors can prescribe tamiflu just on the basis of symptoms.

“We have observed that most of those who succumbed to the disease approached the hospital in a very advanced stage of infection. We are running a widespread campaign to educate the masses about the do’s and don’ts and have told them to immediately approach the nearest hospital if they show any symptoms,” Mr. Gera added.

So far, over 725 suspected cases have been screened in Chandigarh; 313 tested positive. Of the 48 casualties in Chandigarh, 23 were from Punjab, 11 from Haryana, seven from Chandigarh, six from Himachal Pradesh and one from Uttar Pradesh. In Punjab, 164 patients have tested positive and 30 deaths were reported so far. In Haryana, over 1,250 positive cases were reported in the last few months and of these nearly 600 were from Gurgaon.

“There is no need to panic as we have sufficient stocks of medicines and are well-equipped to handle any kind of emergency situation,” Mr. Gera said. The testing facility at the virology department of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) caters to the needs of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.