India swine flu death toll now six

MUMBAI: The number of people to die from swine flu in India rose to six, health officials said today, as the government called for calm and people flocked to public hospitals for tests.

The latest to die of the (A)H1N1 virus were an ayurvedic practitioner in Pune, 120 km from Mumbai, and a four-year-old boy in the southern city of Chennai. Both patients had been unwell for some time, Indian media reported, quoting state health officials. A man who arrived in western Gujarat state from the United States at the end of July and a woman from Mumbai both died on Saturday, while a school teacher died in Pune on Sunday.

India’s first swine flu death was that of a

14-year-old girl last Monday, also in Pune, where there has been a cluster of cases.

The Indian government, which has urged the public not to panic,

is screening travellers

arriving at airports

and asking people with flu-like symptoms not

to go to public places and to seek immediate diagnosis.

Some schools shut amid concern about the virus, as newspapers and television news channels showed queues of people, many in surgical masks, waiting for tests outside medical centres.

As of Sunday, there were 82 new confirmed swine flu cases, taking the total number of

people with the virus to 864, the ministry of health said.

Most had either returned to India from abroad or had contact with people who had been overseas.

The government is sending 100,000 doses

of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu to affected

cities, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told the Hindustan Times newspaper.