New Delhi: A large number of private hospitals and laboratories were being accredited by various state governments on Saturday to treat swine flu patients as well as test for the influenza A (H1N1) virus.
The step was taken as the government hospitals are overrunning by people who want to test or treated for swine flu.
Eleven private hospitals in Bangalore were accredited on late Friday night after the Health Ministry took a decision in this regard in the evening. Other state governments were reportedly following the suit.
Panic-struck people have been making a beeline to government hospitals across the country for tests after India recorded its first swine flu death on August 3.
"We have decided to allow private laboratories with high level of bio-safety to conduct the swine flu tests but only after they are accredited by the Health Ministry based on their testing capacity," Health Secretary Naresh Dayal told reporters on Friday.
The government also announced that supply of Tamiflu, the only known medicine for swine flu, will be further decentralised at district level to tackle the pandemic.
"We have also decided to separate isolation wards from testing centres to avoid any accidental exposure of people coming for the swine flu test in isolation wards," said Dayal.
However, the Health Ministry has refused to allow sale of Tamiflu over the counter.
"The people tested positive for swine flu at private laboratories have to come to a designated government hospital to get Tamiflu. They can show us the prescription of the doctor from the concerned hospital and government hospital will administer vaccine to them," he said.
According to Dayal, the government is not allowing private sale of Tamiflu to avoid people buying and consuming it without having been infected with the H1N1 virus.
Accredited private hospitals will be allowed to stock and administer the medicine.
The number of swine flu cases spiked sharply as 96 fresh cases were reported on Friday, taking the total in India to 712 so far.
Among those who tested positive were four doctors, including three in Delhi.