States in India are on alert amid the heightened risk of of H3N2 influenza virus outbreak with at least 451 cases reported in the country between January 2 and March 5.
At least nine people have died due to the H3N2 influenza virus across the country, with the latest being a 73-year-old man, who died in Maharashtra’s Pune on Friday.
Gurugram Reports 2 New Cases
Gurugram on Saturday reported two more cases of the virus, a day after the city recorded its first case with a four-year-old child testing positive for the virus, according to the health department.
A 55-year-old woman and an 11-month-old baby girl tested positive for the influenza virus, they said, as per PTI.
The woman has been discharged from a private hospital after an improvement in her health and she is in home isolation while the infant is being treated in a medical college in Rohtak, the department said.
District Surveillance Officer Dr J P Rajliwal said that the health department teams have also been tracing the people who came in contact with the infected patients. After identifying ten people who came in contact with the baby girl and the woman, their samples were taken on Saturday and they have been instructed to remain in isolation, the officer said.
As cases surge, the Union Health Ministry has written to states and UTs and said operational guidelines for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of influenza-like illness or severe acute respiratory infection need to be followed.
Delhi health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Friday urged the people to stay away from crowded places over rising cases of Covid-19 and H3N2 influenza in the country.
‘Cases are fewer in government hospitals. 20 influenza cases have been found at Lok Nayak hospital and 8-10 cases in other hospitals. Beds were reserved during the Covid-19 pandemic. We haven’t released those beds,” he said while addressing the media.
Maharashtra on Alert
In view of the rising H3N2 influenza cases, the Maharastra government has asked all the hospitals in the state to be on alert. Addressing the media after s a meeting of the Health Department, in the presence of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, Maharastra Health Minister, Tanaji Sawant, said, “H3N2 virus is spreading in the state, but there is no need to worry. People must not go in crowded areas, wear masks and maintain social distancing. H3N2 & Covid cases are on the rise again in the state.”
So far, Maharastra has reported as many as 352 cases of H3N2 influenza, which are under treatment in different hospitals, according to the Minister. Sawant attributed the rising number of cases to the change in the weather, which he said, is affecting health.
Other States Issue Advisories
The Uttar Pradesh government has asked children and the elderly to take precautions. As per the advisory, instructions have been given to hospitals to admit H3N2 infected patients if their oxygen level falls to 90. Oseltamivir should be administered to H3N2 patients. The government has also released a list of helpline numbers.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said there is no need to panic regarding Influenza A H3N2 variant virus infection in the state, and people need to take precautions, as per India Today.
Rise in Covid Cases
Even as cases of H3N2 surged, daily Covid cases in India crossed 800 after over 4 months, according to Union health ministry data on Saturday.
843 new Covid infections were reported in the last 24 hours, taking active cases to 5,389.
Experts say a rapidly spreading XBB.1 descendant, XBB.1.16, may be the reason for the current spike in Covid cases in India. According to an international platform that tracks Covid variations, this subvariant is becoming more common in at least four nations, including India.
A total of 76 samples of COVID-19’s XBB.1.16 variant have been found so far, according to INSACOG data.
The variant has been found across Karnataka (30), Maharashtra (29), Puducherry (7) Delhi (5), Telangana (2), Gujarat (1), Himachal Pradesh (1) and Odisha (1), the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) data showed.
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