Nine people, including a doctor, who had been in close contact with a swine flu patient who died a week ago were also confirmed to have been infected by the deadly strain of H1N1 Type-A Influenza on Thursday.
Officials told The News that swab samples of over 45 close friends and relatives who were in close contact with the deceased swine flu patient, Iftikharullah, were sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad. The NIH confirmed that eight of them were infected with the disease.
Twenty-year old Iftikharullah, son of Ehteshamullah, a resident of North Nazimabad, was undergoing treatment at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for swine flu and expired on December 31, 2010.
The Sindh Swine Flu Surveillance Cell’s focal person, Dr Shakeel Mullick, told The News that among the eight patients who tested positive for swine flu, four were children, three adult males and one was an adult female.
“At this time, we cannot disclose their names, but they were in contact with Iftikharullah, who succumbed to the viral disease last December,” Dr Mullick added.
He said that the blood samples of the remaining 37 people who had been in close contact with the deceased swine flu patient were also sent for confirmation, but luckily they tested negative for the deadly strain of the viral disease.
When asked about the precautionary measures taken for keeping in isolation the eight patients that tested positive for swine flu, Dr Mullick said they had been given medication and that there were no reports of any complications of among them.
“We have not yet informed these eight patients about the fact that they have been diagnosed with swine flu. However, when we do inform them and if they are willing to undergo further treatment, the government will provide it for them,” he maintained.
The incharge of the Swine Flu Surveillance Cell at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Dr Suresh Kumar, said that in total the samples of around 80 suspected swine flu patients were sent to the NIH in Islamabad for confirmation, out of whom eight tested positive.
“Test results of the remaining patients suspected of swine flu are expected in the next day or two,” Kumar added.
He urged people suffering from swine flu symptoms to visit local hospitals, saying that special wards had been established at the Civil and Abbasi Shaheed hospitals for the treatment of such patients. Kumar added that private hospitals, such as the Aga Khan University, had also set up isolation wards to treat swine flu patients.
Health experts said that cases of the H1N1 Type A Influenza were being reported from all over the country, especially Karachi, and advised the people to follow guidelines being issued to avoid contacting the deadly viral disease.
“Swine flu can be fatal for people with weak immune systems, especially the elderly and children. It spreads through nasal droplets and swine flu patients should avoid visiting crowded places,” Dr Suresh Kumar said. Other experts advised swine flu patients to adopt “coughing etiquette” to prevent others from getting the viral disease while they should keep their personal belongings such as towels and soaps to themselves.