Maharashtra has reported its first death due to the H3N2 virus after a 23-year-old man from Ahmednagar died on March 14. The deceased, an MBBS student, had tested positive for both COVID and H3N2 and died during treatment.
Another suspected case of H3N2 was also reported from Nagpur, but the exact cause of the death of the 78-year-old man has not been established yet.
Maharashtra Health Minister Tanaji Sawant said that a total of 352 cases of the H3N2 virus have been reported so far in the state.
At least seven deaths have been reported in India so far from H3N2 Influenza, including a 58-year-old woman who died in Vadodara, Gujarat, on Tuesday.
An 87-year-old man from Karnataka’s Hassan district was the first patient to succumb to H3N2 infections on March 1.
Meanwhile, the Puducherry government on Wednesday announced a holiday for all schools up to Class 8 from March 16 to March 26, given the spread of the H3N2 influenza virus in the Union Territory.
The order will be in force for schools in all four regions of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam in the Union Territory in view of the prevalence of the viral subtype of influenza, particularly among children.
The UT health department had stated on March 11 that Puducherry reported 79 virus cases belonging to the viral H3N2 subtype till March 4.
The number of patients seeking treatment with H3N2-like symptoms has increased across India.
In Delhi, the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in the national capital has prepared an isolation ward of 20 beds for infected patients with all the necessary facilities.
According to doctors in the national capital, hospitals are witnessing a spike in cases of the H3N2 virus that triggers symptoms like fever, cold and body aches but sometimes leaves behind a persistent cough, making patients extremely weak.
Dr Viny Kantroo, Consultant, Respiratory, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine Consultant at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said the outbreak could have been triggered due to seasonal change, mutation of the virus and the economy being fully open.
“Children are going to school and they are transmitting it to the elderly. A lot of cross-country travel is happening. In the last two years, COVID was the dominant virus and there were restrictions but with relaxation of norms and return of normalcy, these outbreaks are being observed,” she said.
Among other states, Kerala has reported 13 cases and Odisha has reported 59 cases of H3N2.
According to health experts, it is time to take COVID-19-like precautions to prevent the spread of H3N2.
“For the time being the government can again make masks mandatory at least in highly vulnerable zones like public transports, hospitals, airports, railway stations and other public conveyances. People should avoid visiting crowded places, or wear a mask whenever in public,” Dr Sunil Sekri, Associate Consultant – Internal Medicine, Max Hospital, Gurugram, said.
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