The immediate objective of the Tamil Nadu Health Department is to break the transmission of swine flu virus to rural areas and take steps to confine the cases to urban areas.

According to S. Elango, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, the government had launched a huge public awareness campaign to get the people’s participation in containing the A (H1N1) flu to places from where cases had already been reported.

“Only two cities — Chennai and Coimbatore — are having a large number of suspected and confirmed cases of swine flu. Our priority is to make sure that there is no endemic spread to rural areas, particularly at this juncture when the seasonal changes are happening," Dr. Elango told The Hindu on Friday.

The Director of Public Health was in the Madurai Region to identify a suitable laboratory under the government set-up, like the Madurai Kamaraj University, to carry out tests for confirming swine flu.

He is planning to visit the university on Saturday where Real Time-PCR equipment is available and assess if it could be utilised.

Stating that lot of A (H1N1) flu awareness material had been despatched to districts, he said the influenza was now down from pandemic stage to endemic status in Tamil Nadu.

"People have started worrying about even the common flu. Only if the person suffers high temperature for more than three days coupled with continuous cough and headache, should the person take precautions," said Dr. Elango.

Private hospitals

The Director of Public Health said that some private hospitals were found to be shifting patients to government hospitals to "wash their hands of " those in a critical condition.

"At a critical stage, they send the patient to GH. Whichever private hospital admits a patient, it must give complete treatment. We will soon issue certain guidelines for management of swine flu cases," Dr. Elango said.

According to him, 46 hospitals in Tamil Nadu had joined hands with the government in the fight against swine flu.

"Right now, swine flu has stabilised and the cases are coming down. Those who test positive must be confined to either hospital or home quarantine to prevent it from spreading," he said.