With Maharashtra experiencing a sudden bout of unseasonal rain and a sharp drop in temperatures, the swine flu death toll in the State has soared to 152.
With a raw nip prevalent in the air, State health authorities struggled to cope with the rapid pace of the infection even as Health Minister Deepak Sawant cancelled the leaves of doctors.
The numbers of swine flu-afflicted have drastically risen to 1,789 – a steep rise of 600 fresh cases in barely 72 hours. 12 deaths were recorded across the State in the last 24 hours.
The death toll has seen a steep rise in north Maharashtra with Nashik district registering 8 deaths, while Latur district in Marathwada region of south Maharashtra recording 6 deaths so far.
Nagpur and the Vidarbha division continue to be the worst-hit, registering more than 45 deaths.
The death toll in Pune has crossed 34 while 26 cases are said to be critical and on ventilator support.
Despite official assurances that preventive antivirals were in abundant supply, chaos and confusion over the format prescriptions were witnessed at many hospitals across the State, notably in Pune, with anxious parents struggling to convince doctors to examine their wards and administer them with Tamiflu dosages.
Doctors in certain private hospitals are insisting of patients that they submit prescription as per the government specification of classifying H1N1 symptoms, namely category ‘A’ (extremely critical), ‘B’ (for symptoms requiring administration of Tamiflu) and ‘C’ (which needs symptomatic treatment of seasonal influenza without Tamiflu dosage). This has often led to verbal skirmishes between the kin of patients and harried doctors.
Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the State would foot the bills of H1N1 patients undergoing treatment in private hospitals across the State.
Speaking to an English daily in Mumbai, Mr. Fadnavis also said that hospitals could not refuse treatment to any person experiencing swine flu symptoms.
During the 2009 flu pandemic, which started with the death of a patient in Pune, Maharashtra recorded more than 930 deaths, second only to that of Kerala’s death toll.