The Union Health Ministry has stated that 3038 confirmed cases of various subtypes of influenza including H3N2 have been reported from across India since January 2023. The ministry's clarification comes at a time when several state governments are reporting casualties linked to seasonal influenza.

Government think tank NITI Aayog held an inter-ministerial meeting on March 11 to review the Seasonal Influenza situation in the States and for ways to further support them in terms of public health measures, management guidelines and protocols to manage the increasing seasonal influenza cases.

The ministry said that according to the latest data available on IDSP-IHIP (Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme- Integrated Health Information Platform), a total of 3038 laboratory confirmed cases of various subtypes of Influenza including H3N2 have been reported till 9th March 2023 by the States. This includes 1,245 cases in January, 1,307 in February and 486 cases in March (till 9th).

Stating that the ministry is keeping a close watch on the seasonal influenza situation in various States/UTs through the IDSP network on a real-time basis, it said that so far, Karnataka and Haryana have confirmed one death each from H3N2 subtype of seasonal influenza. Young children and old age persons with co-morbidities are the most vulnerable groups in the context of seasonal influenza, the ministry said.

The IDSP-IHIP data from health facilities also indicate that during the month of January 2023, a total of 397,814 cases of Acute Respiratory Illness/Influenza Like Illness (ARI/ILI) were reported from the country that increased slightly to 436,523 during February, 2023. In the first 9 days of March 2023, this number stands at 133,412 cases.

The corresponding data for admitted cases of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) is 7041 cases in January 2023, 6919 during February 2023 and 1866 during the first 9 days of March 2023, the ministry said. Similarly, in 2023 (till 28th February), a total of 955 H1N1 cases have been reported. Majority of the H1N1 cases are reported from Tamil Nadu (545), Maharashtra (170), Gujarat (74), Kerala (42) and Punjab (28).

Every year India witnesses two peaks of seasonal influenza: one from January to March and another in the post monsoon season. The cases arising from seasonal influenza are expected to decline from March end.

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