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NITI Aayog holds inter-ministerial meeting to review Influenza spread in states

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New Delhi: Union Health Ministry is keeping a close watch on the Seasonal Influenza situation in various States and Union Territories, through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme network on a real-time basis.

To review the Seasonal Influenza situation in the States, NITI Aayog is holding an inter-ministerial meeting today. The meeting will discuss ways to further support them in terms of public health measures and to manage the increasing Seasonal Influenza cases. In a statement, the Health Ministry said, it is also tracking and keeping a close watch on morbidity and mortality due to the H3N2 subtype of seasonal influenza. The Ministry said, so far, Karnataka and Haryana have confirmed one death each from H3N2 influenza. Young children and old age persons with co-morbidities are the most vulnerable groups in the context of seasonal influenza.

Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that circulate in all parts of the world, and the cases are seen to increase during certain months globally. India every year witnesses two peaks of seasonal influenza- one from January to March and the other in the post-monsoon season. The cases arising from seasonal influenza are expected to decline from March end. State surveillance officers are therefore fully geared to meet this public health challenge.

Indian Council of Medical Research has also issued an advisory for infection prevention and control. It has suggested to people wash their hands with soap and water and symptomatic patients have been advised to wear masks and avoid crowded places. They should cover mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing and avoid touching their eyes and nose. Such patients have been advised to take plenty of fluids and in case of fever and body ache they can take paracetamol. They should not take antibiotics and other medicines without consulting a doctor.

The Health Ministry said that Oseltamivir is the drug recommended by World Health Organisation and the drug is made available through the Public Health System free of cost. The Ministry said that adequate logistics are available with the States. However, in case of any emergencies, the Centre has been providing support to the States to tide over the crisis.

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