Government officials in India are scrambling to ensure medication and helplines are available as a swine flu epidemic sweeps across the world’s second-most populous nation.

More than 11,000 cases of swine flu have been reported in India. The death toll has risen to more than 700, with 40 new deaths reported Thursday, according to a story today in the Times of India.

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Time magazine reported earlier this week that hospitals faced shortages of medication and protective masks.

The National Crisis Management Committee held an emergency meeting to review the outbreak. The committee ordered drug suppliers to make sure medication is available throughout the country to combat swine flu.

Officials have granted 40 new drug stores in the national capital of Delhi licenses to sell Tamiflu. Tamiflu is an antiviral used to treat influenza.

Delhi officials also have ordered a cap on the price laboratories can charge patients to test for swine flu. Several patients had filed complaints about being charged exorbitant rates, the Times reported.

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The committee also asked Indian states to set up helplines and outbreak monitoring teams.

Concerns were raised today when the chief minister of the state of Bengal publically stated that swine flu is mostly spread through mosquito bites, according to a report on NDTV.

Health officials in the United States have concluded swine flu is a strain of influenza that originally infects pigs and occasionally jumps to humans.

It is highly contagious. The virus usually passes from person to person through saliva and mucus particles. It can spread through coughing, sneezing, and touching infected surfaces.

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