As Covid-19, H1N1, H3N2 cases rise in Tamil Nadu, Health Department is on the front foot

According to the Union Health Ministry's IDSP, Tamil Nadu recorded 545 cases of H1N1 on 12 March, against 955 cases across the country.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Mar 13, 2023 | 6:22 PM Updated Mar 13, 2023 | 6:24 PM

TN Health Minister Ma Subramanian at one of 1,586 fever camps conducted across the state by the Directorate of Public Health. (Twitter)

After nearly four months, Tamil Nadu registered a Covid-19 death in Tiruchy on Sunday, 12 March. Meanwhile, the state reported the highest number of cases of H1N1 (swine flu) in the country.

According to the Union Health Ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), Tamil Nadu recorded 545 cases of H1N1 infection against a total of 955 cases reported across the country.

Further, the H3N2 subtype among the samples testing positive for influenza increased in the state at the beginning of this year.

The government’s measures

The state’s Directorate of Public Health (DPH) has advised patients with fever to seek medical attention at nearby government primary health centres (PHCs) and other health facilities.

More than 2 lakh people have been screened so far for the H3N2 infection.

The Health Department has already conducted fever camps at 1,586 places across the state. Around 2,300 people were treated for fever in these camps.

Speaking to South First, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said there was no need to panic. He added that the state had adequate medicines in stock.

He also issued an advisory to all health centres to treat patients with fever and other symptoms.

Subramanian said that 300 mobile health units — each equipped with a doctor and three medical staff — had been deployed across the state.

“We have also advised the district administrations to follow the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) protocols in controlling the spreading of fever. Further, the department has ordered screening of school children and additional medical camps will be conducted in all districts,” he said.

Rise in Covid-19 cases

Meanwhile, a 27-year-old man from Tiruchy, who tested positive for Covid-19, died at a private hospital there on Saturday.

According to the Health Department, the deceased, who was working in Bengaluru, visited Goa before testing positive for Covid-19.

“As his health condition worsened, he returned to his hometown of Tiruchy and got admitted to a private hospital. Though he tested positive and had severe comorbidities, his sample was sent to the state laboratory to ascertain whether he additionally had H3N2. We are awaiting these results,” Subramanian said.

The last Covid-19 death in the state was recorded on 17 November, 2022. So far, 38,050 persons have died due to Covid-19 in the state.

As per the state’s health bulletin on Covid-19 on 12 March, Coimbatore and Chennai reported 10 fresh cases each, while four new cases in the Chengalpattu district, and three persons tested positive in the Salem district.

Two new cases were recorded in the Nilgiris, while other districts — including Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Kanniyakumari, Madurai, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruppur, Tiruchy, and Vellore — reported one new case each.

With 40 new cases, Tamil Nadu had 235 active cases as of Sunday.

Also read: A look at how different H3N2 influenza subtype is from Covid

Children, elderly advised to use masks

The Tamil Nadu health secretary had ordered screening at the school level for students and for continuous medical checkups in government-run health centres.

Speaking to South First, Dr J Sangumani, the dean of the Virudhunagar Government Medical College, said that influenza affects children and the elderly, and added that wearing a mask was necessary as the virus spreads while sneezing and coughing through air droplets.

Stating that the symptoms may vary from person to person, he said that the common symptoms include sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, mild headache, and ear pain.

Sangumani said that the spread of influenza usually ends by February, but it seems like the virus may have mutated, resulting in infections in March as well.

However, he said, they expect a decrease in cases by the end of March.

Sangumani added, “Patients with comorbidities should be cautious and get treated in hospitals. Though the fever subsides, the cough and sore throat can last for up to three weeks.”

Meanwhile, a senior DPH official told South First: “The doctors have advised patients with these symptoms to stay isolated at home.”

The official added that the DPH had also advised the district administrations to follow the ICMR protocols in controlling the spreading of fever.

Also read: As H3N2 cases rise rapidly, IMA cautions against antibiotic use