Swine flu, a killer virus... it has hogged media headlines like no other disease would have ever done!! 48 people have been "officialy" declared dead and 2539 confirmed cases in the country have been reported as of 21Aug2009 (source: http://mohfw.nic.in/Status%20as%20on%2021st%20August,%202009.doc). Unfortunately, 1 in these 2539 cases (rather more, its one day old!!) turned out to be my wife... fortunately she recuperrated from the deadly virus, thanks to timely steps, and really to the media for actually creating so much awareness amongst the commoners.
But all doesnt seem to be good with this whole thing, here is her story... 8th august saturady, we decided to go to chandigarh, early morning she(vidhi, my wife :)) drove us towards it, on the way, decided to have our breakfast, Haveli, Karnal seemed good to us, beautiful washrooms they had... in the washrooms vidhi saw some foreigners but that's normal right, in such kindaa place. Had a nice breakfast, started next leg of our journey, drove to chandigarh(again her)... and yeah, the highways to chandigarh from delhi are really well done job :) But as soon as we got out of car in chandigarh, she started feeling dizzy, and feverish... soon her condition started to deteriorate, we thought its the heat of chandigarh... so booked a room in parwanoo and stayed overnight there, as we thought it to be a heat stroke, and decided to rest it off rather then drive back. Next day morning, drove back to delhi... contacted her doctor. He told that its unlikely to be swine flu(no travel history, no contact history) but to be more sure, goto the nearest government hospital, which was Lal Bahadur Shastri hospital in mayur vihar... so somewhere around 8 in the evening, on 9th august, we went to this hospital... which seemed like ready to fight the menace... active staff, proper signboards, helpfull attitude... less then 15 minutes, and we were through with her Throat Swab and on our way back, with a strip of "Tamiflu" as a precautionary measure. We were told reports will be out in 4 days... and you will be contacted only if found positive. Our first reaction, 4 days is so long, what if she is really positive? So we decided to dig deeper, and what we found out was, there is no other option but to wait, as no private facility is available for these tests.
Next few days, vidhi stayed in bed, and as advised she cut contacts with any outsiders... she was in a lot of pain, and unfortunately not much could be done, as doctor couldnt even give her antibiotics! Fortunately, her symptoms started to recede in a couple of days... and by the time it was really time for reports to come, she was already out of fever, left with just some congestion of throat and bodyaches. On the fourth day, I decided to visit the hospital again, to collect the reports... but the reply I got was really shocking, no reports yet!!! Till when can you expect?? Dont expect before a week, can take even 10 days... a reply that was agonising to say the least. I collected the rest of her reports(some more tests as suggested by her doctor at the private hospital), next day we met her doc. On seeing the reports, he found some bacterial infection in her throat, so started treatment for the same, as anyways the swine flu reports were nowhere visible. Meanwhile, I called up swine flu helpline, where I was helped by a really nice person, who told me the helplesness in giving reports due to large number of tests happening. So left with no option, and due to her improving conditions, and suggestions by the doctor at the government hospital, that your symptoms will increase if it is actually swine flu, we decided to move on and continue with normal routines. On monday(17th august), she joined back her office... by wednesday, her medication for throat infection got over, and her cough also subsided considerably. Just some weakness, but a normal healthy life had started to follow, when suddenly on saturday, at 9pm, her phone rang... its been 14 days since her first symptoms, and 13 days since her tests... we had all but forgot everything about swine flu... and the person on the other end, informs her, that her reports have come positive!!! She has been diagnosed positive for swine flu. Diagnosed, after disease got killed long ago... diagnosis... after cure!! Shock, anger, frustration, suspicious, worried, traumatised... I never felt so short of words in describing my state of mind! Well, fortunately she is cured, we visited the hospital again, and they say no need to worry... but...
What if she wouldnt have reacted positively to the precautionary medication? What if people around her had actually contracted the dreaded virus?? What about those innocent people, who came in contact with her during the virulent period, and would never know that they actually might have contracted the virus? What about those who she met after more then a week, feeling she actually never had the virus?? Are we seriously serious about stopping this virus from spreading any further?
We asked some of these questions at various stages to various "concerned" people... the people who have been given the responsibility of fighting this menace... Some of the answers we got might actually shock you...
Reports generally do not come before a week, just carry on with your Tamiflu, and hope for the best. What to do, just one lab in the whole of north India. Actually, more then awareness, people are panicky, so rush to the testing centres is causing delay in reports. Our lab just has a capacity of 150 tests a day, and that's the only lab in whole of north India, so what more can you expect?
Well, what more can we expect in this country, which spends the lowest per capita on health care?? Do we really feel, that we will be able to contain this pandemic by just creating one centre for testing in the whole of northern India(havent really researched more on the rest of the country yet... but thats the scenario in national capital, so cant expect any better!!)?
We have been hearing a lot about the government being hyper active, but statistics seems to be baffling... http://mohfw-h1n1.nic.in/stats.html is the place, where the government of Indias, ministry of health website points you for statistics on swine flu... I have been checking this link, since the day honorable minister for health said that all the statistics will be available on our site... its been more then 10 days, and still you only see Under Construction on all the stats links. According to the daily press release by ministry, "13,364 persons have been tested so far out of which 2539 are positive for Influenza A H1N1 [Swine]. 819 out of the 13,364 persons have been identified through entry screening, 1826 through contact tracing and the rest were self reported. " While reading this, I just got reminded of the hoopla being created around the great contacting system devised by the delhi government and respective teams for containing the spread of this virus... out of 13K ppl tested, just 1800 were tested using this contact system... thats less then 1 per 10 ppl tested... and even less then 1 per person tested positive for the whole country... I would be seriously interested in knowing the exact figures for delhi.
All in all, seriously, are we ready to fight this pandemic?? Are we serious about fighting it?? Is our healthcare system stung by bigger viruses then this one already?? Are we already in a bigger pandemic... of laxity, corruption, and worse as it seems in this case, ignorance, negligence and over confidence??
I seriously am in a traumatic state of mind, at the state of affairs... just prayers are what's left... still clueless how our country still survives these "PANDEMICS".
Wishing all those suffering from any disease a speedy recovery, may God Bless All!
p.s.: Here's her story, in her own words...