Mumbai: As many as 600 people have died of swine flu so far this year, a more than two-fold rise in such deaths as against last year, the government informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Maharashtra alone accounted for almost 50% of all deaths, as it recorded 284 deaths out of the 2,324 cases reported till July 9, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said in a written reply.
Gujarat recorded 75 deaths out of 289 infections, while in Kerala 63 out of 1,127 people succumbed to H1N1 complications. In Rajasthan, 59 persons died out of 407 reported cases. Karanataka had 15 deaths out of 2,377 cases, while Telangana and Tamil Nadu registered 17 and 15 deaths out of 1,443 and 2,896 cases, respectively.
The country has registered 12,460 swine-flu cases so far this year as compared to 1,786 cases reported last year. Nadda further said the central government has been closely monitoring the seasonal influenza outbreak situation and was in regular touch on the issue. To ensure wider availability and accessibility of Oseltamivir, the drug for treatment of influenza, has been put in schedule H1 on June 22, which means they can be sold by all licensed chemists against prescription.
Earlier, they belonged to Schedule X category, wherein only certain selected pharmacies were authorised to stock and sell the medicine. A central rapid response team was deployed in Maharashtra on June 27 to investigate the rising trend of influenza in the state and to provide required assistance which is resulting in reduced mortality currently.
Central teams have also been deployed to assist states like Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana where large laboratory confirmed cases have been reported, Nadda said in his reply. While 265 swine flu deaths were recorded last year, in 2015 a total of 42,592 cases and 2,990 deaths were reported, the statement said.