While the focus of the country is on the 'epidemic' Covid-19, as many as 28 people have lost their lives in India due to swine flu this year up to March 1.
According to the Union Health Ministry data, there have been over 1,100 deaths due to swine flu in the country in 2019 and 2018.
"A total of 2,270 deaths were reported in 2017 because of the swine flu," the Health Ministry data accessed by IANS showed.
The swine flu deaths in 2018 were 1,128 and that in 2019 were 1,218.
"A total of 28 deaths have been reported in India because of the swine flu till March 1," the Health Minister data said.
The number of cases reported of the swine flu per year in the country is also high.
While the total cases in 2017 were 38,811, it came down to 15,266 in 2018. However, the country witnessed 28,798 cases of swine flu in 2019.
Till March 1, there have been 1,469 swine flu cases in the country.
Swine flu or H1N1 or Seasonal Influenza is a seasonal infection which usually occurs every year with two peaks -- January to March and July to September.
Preventive measures such as covering the nose and mouth with a tissue/handkerchief while coughing or sneezing, washing hands often with soap and water is advisable to check the spread.
"Avoid crowded places; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; stay away from crowded places if you have cough/cold; drink plenty of water; sleep well. In case of any symptoms, the nearest public health facility may be contacted immediately," the Health Ministry advises.
India has declared H1N1 as an epidemic, while the WHO named it pandemic in 2009.
Now, while the WHO has declared the coronavirus as a pandemic, India has called it an epidemic.
There have been 114 positive cases of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country while two deaths have been reported as of now.
"While Covid-19 is the main health crisis before the country, a close eye has been kept on other outbreak, including H1N1," a Health Department official said.
The situation of the H1N1 is regularly reviewed by the Joint Monitoring Group under the chairmanship of Director General of Health Service (DGHS).
"The last meeting of the JMG was held on January 8," the official said.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the official added, has provided guidelines on the categorization of patients, treatment protocol and guidelines on ventilatory management to the states and the UTs.
"State governments have also been advised for vaccination of health care workers dealing with H1N1 cases."
Health is a state subject in India and the states or the UTs are having the primary responsibility of the issues related to it.
"However, the Central closely monitors the Seasonal Influenza situation and have been in regular touch with other governments," the official added.
In the national capital, while zero deaths have been reported in H1N1 in 2020, 226 cases have been reported till February 23.
The deaths in Delhi in 2019 because of the swine flu were 31 when 3,627 cases were reported.
While two people died because of H1N1 in Delhi in 2018 and total reported cases were 205, the number of deaths were 16 in 2017 in Delhi and the total cases were 2,835.
Delhi has witnessed one death because of coronavirus in March.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])