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Swine flu suspects may not get Indian visa, says Health Ministry

People travelling to India will now be asked to furnish details if he/she is undergoing treatment or has symptoms of swine flu. They may also be denied a visa, a senior health ministry official said on Thursday as the country increasingly reported ‘imported cases’ of influenza A(H1N1).

“While applying for Indian visa, all applicants shall be asked to furnish details about their swine flu status – if he or she is undergoing treatment or has noticed some symptoms,” said Shiv Lal, special director, general public health.

“The government of India has issued guidelines to Indian embassies abroad about the issue. As you know, a majority of the cases in India are people who have travelled to India from infected countrie”,” Lal said on the sideline of a swine flu workshop for media persons.

India has reported over 340 cases of swine flu so far, of which above 260 are people who caught infection abroad. Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Wednesday informed parliament that of the total “imported” cases, 111 were from the US alone.

When asked particularly on whether anyone has been denied visa on this ground so far, Lal said: “I believe we have not encountered a difficult situation like this. Once we get such applicants, it will be treated on a case-to-case basis. I will advise, anyone (infected) applying for a visa must get cured first and then apply.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already granted pandemic status to swine flu, which has taken at least 700 lives. According to the global health watchdog, there were over 94,512 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza A(H1N1) in 135 countries.

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