Smitha R l Ahmedabad, March 26,2013, DNA
There is a reason why swine flu statistics are being treated as state secret. Gujarat has recorded the highest number of swine flu deaths in the country in 2013 and has the second highest number of cases as well. The state had 808 swine flu cases and 149 deaths due to the disease up to March 23, 2013. This means 18% of the cases resulted in death whereas Delhi, which recorded the highest number of swine flu cases at 1454, had a death rate of mere 1.1%. The national capital recorded just 16 deaths in 2013.
This dubious distinction could explain why the Gujarat government is clamping down on information and statistics about swine flu cases. It should be noted that the last update on swine flu from the health department was on March 19, at which point the number of deaths due to the disease was 125 while the total cases reported where 701. In the four days since then, the state has recorded a whopping 107 cases and 24 deaths.
Earlier, health minister Nitin Patel when contacted by DNA had gone on record to state that that the government was not releasing the data because it was to have a debate on the issue in the assembly on Monday as demanded by a member of the Opposition.
However, Congress MLA Chandrika Baria who was to move the private member’s bill in the assembly on the matter, was not present on Monday and hence it was not discussed.
“As the member was not present, we did not discuss the matter. We will talk tomorrow on the matter,” was all that Patel was willing to say about the data. It should be noted that Patel had earlier said that the government would release the swine flu data from Monday onwards.
Interestingly, principal secretary, health services, PK Taneja; additional director of health Dr Paresh Dave; and nodal officer for swine flu Dr Dinkar Raval did not take calls from DNA. A message to them on the matter also did not elicit any reply.
Earlier, the state government’s handling of swine flu had come in for sharp criticism by the Gujarat high court. In its report filed before the court on March 21, the health department had merely stated that only 6.2% of the total cases of swine flu in the country were reported from Gujarat, and that it was less than other states. Unimpressed by the data, an annoyed high court had then directed the state to file a detailed report on swine flu.
In contrast, Delhi had 1,454 cases but only 16 deaths during the same period
- Swine flu death toll rises to 12 in Indore (thehindu.com)
- 19 test positive for swine flu in Delhi (vancouverdesi.com)
- Spurt in swine flu cases puts city on the alert (thehindu.com)