Health officials in India this week tried to reassure citizens that the country has adequate medical supplies to combat a swine flue outbreak that has reportedly killed more than 700 people and infected 11,000 others since mid-December.
There is “no shortage of drugs or any other logistics,” and the government is “closely monitoring the situation,” the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The situation in terms of availability of drugs, testing kits, diagnostic labs, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks etc., is being continuously reviewed through video conferencing and telephonic means," the release said.
Though the airborne nature of H1N1 swine flu and India’s dense population make the outbreak difficult to contend with, doctors have echoed the health ministry’s warnings and instructed citizens to remain calm.
“There’s no cause for panic, but there is cause for worry and we have to be careful and we have to keep track of this because usually the H1N1 influenza season ends by this time as the temperature increases. But this time, unfortunately, it hasn’t done so yet," Dr. Sumit Ray, a physician at New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told Al Jazeera.
Doctors attribute the unusually high number of casualties this flu season to infected people delaying hospital visits. Medical professionals are urging anyone who feels symptoms – including chills, coughing, fatigue, fever and headache – to seek immediate care.
Health officials have also launched an education campaign over television and radio to instruct citizens on how to shield themselves from the virus. However, health workers said they were struggling to reach people fast enough.
“People have very little knowledge of this disease, they take it to be a regular fever. They take generic fever medications and thus do not get the right diagnosis in time, then the disease is incurable," said Sitaram Nain Chaudhury, a community health worker in New Delhi.
In 2009-10, the H1N1 swine flu pandemic spread from central Mexico to 74 countries including India, killing an estimated 284,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Al Jazeera and wire services. Nidhi Dutt contributed to this report from New Delhi.
Sorry, your comment was not saved due to a technical problem. Please try again later or using a different browser.