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Jun 16, 2009 at 04:15pm IST

Don't go to US says Govt as swine flu spreads

New Delhi: Suspend your travel plans to the US, a worried Health Minister cautioned Indians on Monday.

Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "There are so many nice places to see in India. I request people to postpone their travel plans, especially to educational institutes in the US for a couple of months."

The minister's advice comes close on the heels of six new cases of swine flu being confirmed on Sunday - one of them being a 17-year-old boy who was part of a group of 31 students returning from NASA. Eight others from the group were quarantined as they showed symptoms of swine flu.

Out of the 30 cases reported so far, 28 are passengers returning from abroad - mostly from the US. Hyderabad remains the epicenter of the virus with 14 confirmed cases followed by Jalandhar at seven and Delhi at six.

Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Monday, "So far 23 cases have been confirmed but out of them, 11 have been treated and sent back home."

But the monsoons might bring in the worst of the virus. Azad has asked Chief Ministers of all states to be ready to tackle a possible spread of the influenza.

On the Health Minister's request, the External Affairs Ministry has also asked its missions abroad to get in touch with the Governments of infected countries to get a system in place to check in-bound passengers for the swine flu.

SWINE FLU IN INDIA SO FAR

In India, 23 confirmed cases of swine flu have been reported, but 11 of them have been treated and discharged. At the moment, 12 people are infected with the virus.

Hyderabad is still the epicentre with 12 cases, including the three fresh cases that were reported on Sunday. The Andhra Pradesh government has launched a toll free number for enquiries on swine flu - 12506.

Delhi has confirmed six swine flu cases, the latest being a 17-year-old student from Jalandhar who had returned from the US. He has been quarantined. Jalandhar is in focus with eight suspect cases - all students who had just returned from a trip to NASA.

Bangalore, on Sunday, reported two confirmed cases of a mother-daughter duo and has now joined the list of swine flu affected cities in India. They have been quarantined at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, which is the only nodal centre at present in Bangalore.

Coimbatore has two confirmed cases and Goa has one confirmed case.

(With inputs from Shalini in New Delhi)

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