Health authorities in Ahmedabad, the largest city in western Gujarat state, has banned public gatherings to contain the spread of deadly swine flu after 219 people having died of swine flu since the start of the year, and with more than 3,300 cases detected so far. The decision came after Gujarat's junior health minister tested positive for swine flu on Monday, just a day after the state assembly speaker was also diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.
Senior city administrator Rajkumar Beniwal said, "We have issued a notification prohibiting any kind of public gathering in the district. Only weddings and funerals would be exempt. For any kind of public gathering the organizers will have to take prior permission from us. He will be required to provide masks to all those attending the event... (and) sanitizers and water."
Gujarat has registered the second-highest death toll from the outbreak after neighboring Rajasthan, where the disease has claimed 225 lives. Health authorities in Gujarat have come under fire for failing to tackle the outbreak. But the state health minister said, "There was no need for declaring the swine flu outbreak as (an) epidemic as the situation is under control."
The Central government has reportedly offered help to states hit by the virus and has asked health officials to ensure necessary treatment and adequate medicines for swine flu patients. The government was reviewing procedures to prevent further spread of the disease, including vaccinating medical staff working with affected patients.