BY NIVEDITA SINGH
New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) In 2019, H1N1 claimed 1,218, dengue 132 and malaria 50 lives in India, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
“Since 2017, there has been a constant decrease in the number of deaths because of dengue. But 2017 saw an exceptionally high dengue death rate and cases compared with 2016,” said a Health Ministry official.
In 2015, 220 dengue deaths and 99,913 cases were reported. Delhi witnessed 60 dengue deaths that year, according to the data, accessed by IANS.
In 2016, 245 dengue deaths were reported from across India, while the number of cases jumped to 1,29,166. Delhi saw 4,431 cases and 10 deaths.
The number of dengue deaths across the country was 325 and cases 1,88,401 in 2017. In case of Delhi, the deaths remained at 10, the number of cases more than doubled at 9,271.
There was a drastic reduction in dengue cases and deaths in 2018 both across the country as well as in Delhi. The year saw 172 deaths and 1,01,192 cases across the country. Delhi reported four deaths and 7,136 cases.
Till November in 2019, 132 dengue deaths and 1,36,422 cases were reported. Delhi witnessed 4,155 dengue cases but no death.
In case of malaria, the number of fatalities has been on decline, and Delhi has reported zero deaths due to it since 2015.
Malaria claimed 384 lives in 2015 and 331 lives in 2016. In 2017, the number of deaths came down by half to 194 people. In 2018, 96 people died from malaria. Up to December 2019, 50 malaria deaths were reported across India, with only Chhattisgarh reporting deaths in double digits.
However, H1N1 (swine flu or seasonal influenza) has been killing over 1,000 people since the last three years. Even at a time when the focus is on Covid-19 epidemic, up to March 1, H1N1 has claimed 28 lives.
According to the Health Ministry data, there have been over 1,100 deaths due to swine flu in 2019 and 2018. “In 2017, 2,270 swine flu deaths were reported,” it said.
The swine flu deaths in 2018 were 1,128, in 2019 it were 1,218. In 2015 and 2016, 299 and 26 H1N1 deaths respectively were reported.
The number of swine flu cases per year is also high. In 2015, 4,259 swine flu cases were reported and in 2016 it was 178. The number of cases came down to 15,266 in 2018 from 38,811 in 2017. However, India witnessed 28,798 swine flu cases in 2019.
Till March 1, there have been 1,469 swine flu cases in the country.
H1N1 is a seasonal infection that usually occurs every year with two peaks — January to March, and July to September.
Preventive measures, such as covering nose and mouth with a tissue/handkerchief while coughing or sneezing, and washing hands often with soap and water is advisable.
In the national capital, while zero H1N1 deaths were reported in 2020, the number of cases was 226 till February 23. In 2019, swine flu claimed 31 lives and number of cases was 3,627.
In 2018, two people died because of H1N1 in Delhi with total reported cases being 205. In 2017, 16 deaths and 2,835 cases were reported. In 2016, Delhi had seen seven swine flu deaths and 193 cases. In 2015, the number of 12 deaths was 12 and cases 4,307 cases.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)