The Health Ministry said on Friday that H3N2 influenza cases are expected to decline by the end of March, even as two deaths due to the infection were reported in Karnataka and Haryana.
NITI Aayog will hold an inter-ministerial meeting on Saturday to review the influenza situation in the States. The government think tank is expected to find ways to support states in terms of public health measures, management guidelines, and protocols to handle the increasing cases of seasonal influenza.
According to the latest data available on the Integrated Health Information Platform, states have reported as of March 9 a total of 3,038 laboratory-confirmed cases of various influenza subtypes, including H3N2.
Figures from the Ministry of Health show that H3N2 influenza has been the predominant subtype among samples that tested positive for influenza since the beginning of this year.
Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that circulate in all parts of the world, with cases observed to increase during certain months globally. The Health Ministry said each year India witnesses two seasonal flu peaks, one from January to March, another in the post-monsoon season.
Government data also shows that a total of 397,814 cases of acute respiratory illness or influenza-like illness were reported in the country in January. This increased to 436,523 in February.
The Health Ministry said in a statement that state surveillance officers were fully prepared to meet this public health challenge. “The Ministry is also tracking and closely monitoring morbidity and mortality from the H3N2 subtype of seasonal influenza. Young children and older adults with comorbidities are the most vulnerable groups in the context of seasonal influenza,” the Ministry of Health said.
The Ministry of Health has also made oseltamivir, the WHO-recommended medicine, available through the public health system free of charge and allowed its sale or increased accessibility and availability.