The government today issued guidelines to states for approving private diagnostic laboratories for testing swine flue (Influenza A H1N1) cases, health minister Gulam Nabi Azad said after a meeting of health ministry officials.
Private diagnostic laboratories that fulfill these guidelines will be allowed to test for Influenza A (H1N1). This will ensure availability of additional diagnostic capacity in the country to test such case, he said, adding, the testing capacity of existing 19 designated laboratories would also be doubled.
To ensure availability of adequate testing reagents, it was decided that another 22,000 kits would be procured immediately in addition to the 27,000 kits recently procured. Simultaneously, the ICMR would examine the possibility of developing low-cost testing kit, which could then be deployed throughout the country, he said.
Three local companies are already working on the development of a vaccine for Influenza A H1N1. One company has already commenced animal trials of these vaccines. In order to fast-track vaccine production, the Indian Council for Medical Research is harmonisinge animal trails of the vaccines being developed by these companies.
While the decision on closure of schools would be made by state governments based on the situation prevailing in the affected areas, Azad said a mere closure of schools would not solve the problem, unless the children restrict themselves to their homes. If they continue to move around and socialise, closure of schools would not serve any purpose. Therefore, it was more important that parents ensure that children who show signs of influenza like illness stay at home and do not socialise. This hold equally good for adults also, he added.
The minister said four thermal scanners have been installed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi on a pilot basis and it has been observed that the detection of cases through screening had improved from 5 per cent to more than 20 per cent. Thermal scanners would soon be installed in other international airports in the country as well, he added.