Swine flu outbreak kills 76 in India

In this file photo, An Indian vendor sells face masks for swine flu prevention outside a railway station in Secunderabad. (AFP)
Updated 30 January 2019

Swine flu outbreak kills 76 in India

  • Colder weather has worsened the seasonal outbreak of the H1N1 virus

NEW DELHI: A swine flu outbreak in one of India's biggest tourist hubs, Rajasthan state in the west of the country, has killed 76 people this year, government officials said on Wednesday.
Colder weather has worsened the seasonal outbreak of the H1N1 virus, with Rajasthan recording more than a third of all swine flu deaths in India, officials said.
Rajasthan's cities, with their imposing fortresses and palaces, attract many overseas visitors, although officials said there no reports of any of them catching the virus.
More than 8,700 people in Rajasthan have been screened for H1N1 this year, and 1,976 had tested positive by Tuesday, a state health department spokesman told Reuters.
The worst affected area was Jodhpur district, which recorded 23 of the 76 deaths in the state so far this month.
Rajasthan reported 705 cases of swine flu and 53 deaths in the month of January last year.
A team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)arrived in Jodhpur on Tuesday and will spend two days to investigate the outbreak, the spokesman said.
Nationwide, 4,571 cases of H1N1 virus and 169 deaths were reported by Jan. 27, according to NCDC data.
Doctors said that the severity of the current outbreak in Rajasthan was partly due to colder than normal weather.
"It's a seasonal disease and the weather is conducive to viral multiplication," said Raman Sharma, senior professor at SMS Medical College in Jaipur, Rajasthan's capital city.


Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

Updated 48 min 37 sec ago

Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

  • “The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The mayor of Italy’s Lampedusa island on Thursday denounced the collapsing government for its failure to deal with migrant rescue boats, as a ship carrying 356 people remained stranded in the Mediterranean.
Mayor Salvatore Martello said the reception center on the tiny isle was already over capacity and would struggle to house migrants currently stuck aboard the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking.
The vessel, run by charities Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, has sought a port for almost two weeks after rescuing four boats of migrants off the Libyan coast between 9 and 12 August.
“It would be difficult because the reception center is saturated,” Martello told AFP.
“The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”
Lampedusa has long been a magnet for African migrants fleeing poverty and conflict.
Thousands have attempted to make the unsafe crossing from Libya in a bid to reach Europe this year, despite efforts to deter them.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been accused of demonizing migrants and leaving them to drown in the sea.
He has repeatedly insisted that rescued migrants can only land in Italy if other EU countries take them in.
Italy’s president on Thursday was holding a second day of talks after the disintegration of the anti-immigrant coalition government, which broke down after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday.
The plight of the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking, which was denied entry by both Italy and Malta, is the latest in a string of migrant boat standoffs with Italian authorities.
The Open Arms rescue ship was allowed to land in Lampedusa on Wednesday, with 83 migrants disembarking, after Italian justice ordered they be brought ashore.
Many of them had spent 19 days on board the ship after being picked up while in difficulty in waters off Libya.
There were initially 147 mainly African migrants on the ship but all minors and some suffering health problems had already disembarked.
A European deal to redistribute them has yet to be implemented.