H3N2 cases surge in India; Maharashtra on high alert
With the growing risk of the H3N2 influenza outbreak amid the change in weather conditions in parts of India, hospitals across Maharashtra have been instructed to be on high alert. Meanwhile, the Delhi government has issued an advisory and urged citizens, especially the elderly and children, to take extra precautions, follow COVID-19-appropriate behavior, and wear masks to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.
Why does this story matter?
- Over the past few months, India has been reporting a spike in influenza cases.
- While the H3N2 infection is generally mild, it can turn severe in vulnerable groups and has thus triggered panic among the general public more than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It can cause a fever for 3-5 days and cough and cold that might last up to three weeks.
Know about Health Ministry's advisory to states, UTs
In view of the current situation, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry wrote to states and union territories (UTs), urging them to follow operational policies for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting influenza-type illnesses or severe acute respiratory diseases. It asked the states/UTs to review hospital preparedness, like the availability of medical oxygen and required drugs, and vaccination coverage against influenza and COVID-19.
Details on states reporting high influenza cases
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry also urged doctors to wear masks amid the rising flu cases, including Influenza A subtype H3N2, COVID-19, and swine flu, which mostly spread via virus droplets. According to a report in News18, Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Puducherry are among the Indian states and UTs where influenza cases are currently on the rise.
India reported over 450 H3N2 cases till March 5: Report
As per the statistics shared by the Union Health Ministry, as many as 451 H3N2 cases were reported between January 2 and March 5 in the country. Furthermore, at least nine individuals have reportedly succumbed to the H3N2 influenza virus across the country, with its latest victim being a 73-year-old man who died in Pune, Maharashtra.
Delhi health minister urges people to avoid crowded places
On Friday, Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj advised people to avoid crowded places amid the rise in H3N2 influenza infections and COVID-19 cases. "Cases are fewer in government hospitals. Twenty 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," said Bharadwaj during his media address.
DDMA to chair meeting to discuss H3N2 outbreak: Kejriwal
Separately, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) would chair a meeting on Saturday to discuss the spread of the H3N2 virus in numerous parts of India. "We are monitoring the situation. There is a DDMA meeting on Saturday, and there will be a detailed discussion on this," Kejriwal told reporters on Thursday.
Maharashtra health minister provides update on influenza, COVID-19 cases
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Health Minister Tanaji Sawant revealed that H3N2 and coronavirus cases have been witnessing a spike in the state. "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 and COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the state," Sawant earlier said on Wednesday.