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First case of A(H1N1) virus spreading detected

Three more test positive in Hyderabad; air passengers to be screened

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh went on a health alert on Saturday in the wake of a looming threat of outbreak of influenza A(H1N1) flu virus, after authorities detected the country’s first case of the virus getting transmitted to local public from an international passenger.

Health authorities said a 26-year-old man, who had no international travel history, had tested positive for the virus strain. His brother, who flew into Hyderabad in a British Airways flight (BA 277) on May 31, has already been isolated after testing positive. Interestingly, a woman and her daughter who travelled by the same flight also were found to be affected by the virus. The woman (31) and daughter aged four-and-a-half years have also been quarantined. This takes the total number of isolated virus positive cases in Government Chest Hospital here to five.

Earlier, the country’s first confirmed flu patient was treated and discharged from the hospital.

Alarmed over the developments, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy took up the issue with authorities concerned, in a video conference, where it was decided to screen all the inbound passengers from abroad. The government has also decided to create quarantine facilities in districts – isolation wards with at least 10 beds in every district, Health Secretary L.V. Subramanyam said.

A team from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) from New Delhi is also arriving here to help authorities chalk out a contingency plan in case of an outbreak.

The latest case of the young man testing positive is causing concern since he had attended a series of interviews in the last few days in Hyderabad and the authorities fear that he could have transmitted the virus to others. Authorities are also administering anti-viral drugs to those seated in the nearby rows in the British Airways aircraft.

Referring to compulsory screening of all passengers, authorities said anyone resisting or avoiding the screening would be arrested.

Spread of virus

That it is going to be a long drawn effort to contain spread of virus was indicated when Mr. Subramanyam pointed out that “the virus could become aggressive during winter”.

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