Covid-19 isn’t India’s only battlefront, swine flu killed nine people last month

Be cautious.
Be cautious.
Image: REUTERS/Gael Gonzalez
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Amidst the global coronavirus scare, an old enemy has reared its head again in India.

In the country’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh, nine people have died of swine fule since Feb. 1.

Swine flu is a communicable respiratory disease caused by a subtype of influenza A virus called H1N1. Its first outbreak was reported in 2009 globally and soon it was declared a pandemic by the WHO.

On Feb. 29, a team of doctors reached UP’s Meerut town after over 400 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary were suspected to have contracted swine flu. Of these, 19 tested positive.

Last month, German software giant SAP shut down its offices in India for an “extensive sanitation” after two employees tested positive for H1N1 at its Bengaluru headquarters. The company temporarily closed its offices at Gurugram and Mumbai, too.

In the last week of February, five supreme court judges of India were reportedly diagnosed with swine flu. While three of them have resumed duties, two are recuperating and in isolation, The Times of India reported on Feb. 26.

By Feb. 16, around 884 people had tested positive for H1N1 across India, with 14 recorded deaths, according to the New Delhi-based National Centre for Disease Control. Last year, the number of deaths was 1,218 out of 28,798 reported cases.

“Not a disease”

While India’s health ministry is organising awareness drives, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, on Sunday, claimed the flu was not a disease.

“I found there was information about some number of people dying of swine flu in Meerut. Flu is not a disease. When the weather changes, some people catch a cold. It is flu in itself. Based on what it causes, we call some as swine flu or bird flu or by any other name,” he said on Sunday in Lucknow, the state capital.