Amidst the surge in respiratory illness among children in China, at least six states in India, including Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Tamil Nadu, are on high alert. This follows the central government’s directive to review readiness in anticipation of the rising trend observed abroad.
PREPAREDNESS MEASURES UNDERTAKEN
The states have issued directives to hospitals and healthcare staff to ensure preparedness in handling patients presenting respiratory issues. Rajasthan, in particular, emphasizes the vigilance of medical staff to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, while Gujarat is fortifying healthcare infrastructure created during the Covid-19 pandemic as a precautionary measure.
ADVISORIES TO CITIZENS
Karnataka has proactively informed its residents about seasonal flu, listing symptoms, risk factors, and dos and don’ts. Citizens across states are advised to practice preventive measures such as covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, frequent hand washing, avoiding face touching, and wearing masks in crowded places.
FOCUS ON PEDIATRIC UNITS AND SURVEILLANCE
The advisory issued by the Rajasthan health department highlights the importance of adequate arrangements in paediatric units and medicine departments. In Uttarakhand, health officials are instructed to intensify surveillance, especially in districts sharing borders with China, namely Chamoli, Uttarkashi, and Pithoragarh.
MONITORING AND PREPAREDNESS STEPS
The Haryana health department has directed the immediate reporting of any clustering of unusual respiratory illness in both public and private hospitals. Tamil Nadu, while not reporting any child pneumonia cases, is taking precautionary measures and has issued directives to government-run and private hospitals to enhance preparedness.
INDIA’S READINESS AND LOW RISK
The Union health ministry assured on November 24 that India is prepared for any exigency arising from the influenza situation in China. The country is closely monitoring the outbreak of H9N2 and clusters of respiratory illnesses in Chinese children. The ministry maintains that the risk to India from the avian influenza, H9N2, reported in China, is low.