08/05/2009, 00.00
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Controversy surrounds the first victim of swine flu in India

by Nirmala Carvalho
A girl of 14 years died in Pune, but the parents report that diagnosis and treatment were delayed. Investigation of the central health authorities, who say they were warned too late. In India there are over 500 cases for the H1N1 virus.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - There is concern but also anger over the death of fourteen year old Riya Sheikh, first Indian victim of H1N1 flu, who died at Pune on the evening of August 3. Two weeks ago, the parents brought her to a doctor and only a week ago she was admitted to the prestigious Jehangir hospital. The media are asking why the disease was diagnosed only July 31, despite the disease warning that had been in place for months.

The media report that the girl was hospitalized July 26 but only 29 of her samples were sent to a centre for analysis and only since July 30 was she treated with drugs such as Tamiflu and Oseltamivir. But by then her condition was serious.

Now the family lawyer Asif Lampwala, is accusing health authorities  of "gross negligence" and has made official reports and begun legal action for damages.

The health authorities, in turn, have announced an investigation to find out why the hospital did not immediately inform the central authorities on the possibility of contagion, as required by specific directives.

The Chief Secretary for Health Sharvari Gokhale has however made assurances that the situation is under control and "there are reasons for alarm."

In India cases were reported in Mumbai, in the resort town of Panchgani in Satara district, in Thane and Nashik. 500 are estimated to be suffering from H1N1, of which only 150 in the state of Maharashtra and 105 in Pune, where exceptional prevention measures have been put in place: requirement of hospitalization for those who show symptoms and isolation.

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