India reported its first case of the new H1N1 in the middle of May, 2009. The first death was reported on August 5th, 2009. Since then, the deaths have been rapidly mounting. As of today, there are over 20 deaths. Children, a school teacher and several health care workers are among the dead. Pune (Maharashtra state), has been especially hard hit with at least 12 deaths. People have also died in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Thiruvananthapuram, and Nashik.
Age ranges of the dead:
- newborn to 1: 1
- 2 – 10: 2
- 11 – 20: 2
- 21 – 30: 3
- 31 – 40: 4
- 41 – 50: 5
- 51 – 60: 1
- 61 – 70: 1
- 71 – 80: 1
Although deaths occurred throughout the age ranges, there is a clear peak in deaths in those 21 – 50.
Schools and movie theaters have been closed in several cities. Health care facilities are already straining under the weight of patients.
From the Times of India:
Six more patients tested positive for swine flu in Kolkata on Thursday. With five of them being admitted to Infectious Diseases Hospital, Beliaghata, the state’s lone isolation ward for H1N1 has reached saturation point. The government hasn’t a clue what to do with those who test positive on Friday or the day after. It is still sitting on the Centre’s suggestion to rope in private hospitals.
Without any clear instruction from the state government and more suspects streaming in every day, the ID hospital authorities are bracing for a nightmarish situation when the doors open on Friday. A second isolation ward is being set up but it won’t get operational before a week.
“We have a crisis on our hands. We have no idea where to accommodate patients. The only option is to ask them to take medicines at home, but some cases may be critical enough to be admitted. Two patients may be discharged from the isolation ward on Friday but that will hardly be enough,” said a doctor at ID Hospital.
The peak in India’s flu season is months away. It is highly unlikely that most of India’s population will be vaccinated before the first wave of infection passes over the country. Some Tamiflu and personal protective equipment is available, but these are already running low. A black market for N95 masks has emerged.
India’s ability to mitigate this pandemic may already be reaching its limits.