Maharashtra government on Tuesday invoked the Epidemic Act in Pune and Satara districts to check the spread of swine flu, a day after 14-year-old Pune school girl died of the deadly influenza virus.
"The Act has been invoked to prevent spread of this air-borne A(H1N1) virus in the two districts (Pune and Panchgani) where 127 cases have been reported," a senior official in Maharashtra Health Directorate, Dr Pradeep Awate told PTI from Pune.
A total of 150 cases of swine flu have been reported in entire Maharashtra so far since April when the epidemic broke out in Mexico and US, he said.
"We are asking all the patients to get admitted in government hospitals and people should not go to private hospitals. Also, the private hospitals should not take any suspected patients as they do not have any right to do tests unless they take permission from the government," he said.
If the private hospitals do not follow these mandatory steps, severe action will be taken against them, Awate said. Incidentally, Jahangir is the first private hospital that treated a swine flu case outside the three civic hospitals that have become the main referral centres for the last one month in Pune and have not reported any fatality so far.
Reedal Shaikh, a class IX student of St Anne's High School in Pune, died at the Jahangir Hospital, making her India's first swine flu fatality.
Invoking the Act enables the state government to forcibly put swine flu patients under quarantine in government hospitals.
Azad said, "We have been alert to the threat and we have screened in the last two and a half months some 42 lakh patients at the airports coming in from different parts of the world."
"Out of the total 558 tested positive so far, 470 have already been treated and discharged. It means the medicine is working 100 per cent," he added.
"The only death reported in Pune on Monday happened because the victim was tested late for the disease. She went to private practitioners and was treated for normal flu till her condition deteriorated and her lungs were reportedly damaged," the health minister said.
Asking people not to panic, Azad said, "It is monsoon season and crores of people catch common cold and cough. That does not mean all of them should go for a test because one single test costs the government Rs 10,000 as the material and inputs required are produced only in America".