Swine flu deaths surge in India

Swine flu deaths in India surged after five years of decline, reaching more than four times the 2014 toll in just the first two months of the year, officials said Monday.

At least 1,075 people have died of the disease since January, the Health Ministry said, compared with a total of 218 for all of last year.

The dead include a politician in the western state of Maharashtra and a 70-year-old Swiss tourist visiting Rajasthan.

Also affected were Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor and two ministers of the Gujarat state cabinet, news reports said.

Gujarat is one of the states worst-affected along with Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra and Telangana.

Kapoor, 29, contracted the virus during the shooting of a film starring Salman Khan in Gujarat town Rajkot, Mid Day news reported.

She was in a stable condition in Mumbai, the report said, citing the head of the city’s Kokilaben Hospital.

A total of 19,972 cases of swine flu have been reported since the beginning of the year, Health Ministry spokeswoman Manisha Verma said.

The figure compares with 14,673 cases for all of 2014, and is almost as high as the 20,604 reported in 2010, the worst of the past five years, when 1,763 people died.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by the virus H1N1, originally found in pigs, which causes colds, sore throats, coughs and fever.

The first human outbreak in India was in 2009 and has occurred in the winter season every year since then, but in declining numbers since 2010 until this year.

About 98 per cent of those affected recover without hospitalization but the elderly, infants and those already ill are vulnerable.


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