The editorial “Meeting a pandemic challenge” (Aug. 12) was awesome and thought provoking. It would be enough if the government took its cue from it — half the problem would be solved. The first case of swine flu was reported in India more than three months ago. Instead of gearing themselves up to tackle the challenge, our leaders were fighting over non-issues.
When the U.S., Canada and other affected countries are taking steps on a war-footing to contain swine flu, we have a government that is issuing statements and advising people. The death toll is silently mounting. Unless the government acts fast, the result will be disastrous.
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As pointed out in the editorial, the state of preparedness of our health apparatus is abysmally low. In a country of more than one billion, the number of designated hospitals and health facilities is very low. Besides designating more public institutions as testing centres, the government needs to engage the private sector too.
It also needs to undertake an information campaign. Otherwise, a fear mania will grip the people, as was evident in Pune.
K.C. Manikandan Nair,
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The CDC’s recommendation that “those who get sick with the virus stay home unless they have signs of severe illness or fall in a high-risk group” is extremely relevant to India. If this is brought to the attention of all, the panic rush to hospitals will reduce, allowing doctors to treat those with severe affliction.
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The manner in which the government handled the outbreak of swine flu was shameful. All those having symptoms of flu seem to be rushing to one of the few designated hospitals to have themselves tested for swine flu. This creates an environment for extensive dissemination of the virus. Moreover, it creates panic and results in unnecessary testing.
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India could have learnt from the preparedness of the U.S., had it shrugged off its lukewarm attitude to dealing with potential emergencies. The dynamics of the transmission of swine flu should be well publicised among the masses to alleviate their apprehensions. Helplines and prompt response teams should be put in place immediately. Only awareness, preparedness and coordination (cartoon, Aug. 12) can fight the enemy effectively.
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I was in London last week. An acquaintance of mine contracted swine flu. Upon knowing this, he accessed the Internet and found advice that he should take Tamiflu and stay at home. His office permitted him to stay at home. This is how the suspected patient was quarantined. Here, no such advice is accessible. Instead, we find the government closing down schools. Visiting hospitals can be deadly as the virus spreads faster.
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The government should act on a war-footing. It should rope in more private hospitals, and train more doctors to handle swine flu as negligence can prove costly. As prevention is better than cure, the government should quicken its pace of providing safety masks and basic information on preventive action, especially in rural areas.
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In the prevailing scenario, it is difficult for ordinary people and doctors to diagnose A(H1N1) among those suffering from flu. Symptoms of ordinary flu and swine flu seem to be similar in the early stages. The best thing to do is to create awareness of swine flu among the masses, without creating panic. The government should act before the situation gets out of control.
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As usual, the authorities woke up to the grim situation only after the death count started increasing. The number of testing centres is woefully inadequate. The citizens, I guess, will have to take swine flu too in their stride as they do with other calamities.