The State government on Saturday sought to assure the people that there was no reason for the public to panic over the incidence of A (H1N1) influenza, saying it was a self-limiting virus that may weaken as summer advances.
Health Minister V.S. Vijay held a press conference here to outline the steps taken by the government to meet the situation.
He said the government had identified 12 laboratories in the State where people could send their throat swab samples for testing. Of these, seven are in Chennai, two in Coimbatore, one each in Tiruchi, Vellore and Nagercoil.
These apart, there are laboratories in government hospitals, including the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and King Institute in Guindy, Chennai, Government Rajaji Hospital, Madurai, and Tirunelveli GH.
Dr. Vijay said the confirmatory test for the viral infection was the RTPCR test, which these laboratories offered.
“Private laboratories offer a test called the card test but that is not confirmatory as many times there are false positives. We appeal to people not to go to such centres. The government authorised centres will provide the results in 48 hours which are reliable,” he said.
“The virulence of the virus is low. In another month, as the summer advances, the virus' activity will be reduced. There is no reason to panic as viral infections are self-limiting,” Dr. Vijay added. However, the concern is about children below one year, pregnant women, elderly people and diabetics, whose immunity is low.
As of Saturday, 29 persons tested positive for A (H1N1) influenza in the State, according to Dr. Vijay. A 72-year-old farmer from Nallikaundapalayam in Tiruppur succumbed to the infection last Saturday.
The government had started vaccinating those who were closely associated with infected persons. Vaccines were being administered to health workers, such as laboratory technicians and nurses, who were constantly handling samples and patients.
“At present, we have no plans of offering vaccines to the public as it is not an epidemic. We are, however, setting aside funds to procure medicines if there is a need,” Dr. Vijay said.
When a person tested positive, Osaltamavir (trade name Tamiflu) was prescribed, depending on the infection. The infected were administered the medicine twice a day for five days. Those who came in contact with the infected person were administered the medicine as a prophylactic. The dosage for such persons was one tablet a day for 10 days.