Two persons have died due to the H3N2 influenza virus, marking the first fatalities due to the infection, the Union health ministry said on Friday. The deaths have been reported in Karnataka and Haryana.

H3N2 is a sub-type of the influenza A virus. Some of the common symptoms of the H3N2 virus include persistent coughing, fever, throat ache, body ache, nausea and vomiting.

The person who died in Karnataka was Hire Gowda, an 87-year-old man from Hassan district, the commissioner of the state’s health and family welfare services, D Randeep, told The Times of India. He had been hospitalised on February 24 and died on March 1. The lab test results confirmed on March 3 that he was infected by the virus.

“He had symptoms of fever, cough, and breathlessness,” Randeep said. Gowda also suffered from comorbidities such as hypertension, asthma and acute kidney injury, according to Times of India.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday held a meeting to review cases of H3N2 influenza. He said that the government has asked states to be on alert and constantly monitor the situation.

The health ministry said that till March 9, a total of 3,038 influenza cases, including H3N2, have been reported from across the country. Of these, 1,245 cases were registered in January, 1,307 in February and 486 this month.

The ministry said it is keeping a close watch on morbidity and mortality due to the H3N2 subtype of the seasonal influenza. “Young children and old age persons with co-morbidities are the most vulnerable groups in context of seasonal influenza,” it noted.

Doctor Subramanian Swaminathan, the director of infectious diseases at Gleneagles Global Hospital in Chennai, told The Hindu that H3N2 has not been in circulation for a very long time. “It is newish and therefore people do not have any pre-existing immunity to it and therefore we are seeing an excess number of patients falling ill,” he explained.

Scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research scientists had said last week that the H3N2 virus causes more hospitalisations than other influenza subtypes, PTI reported.

The Indian Medical Association advised against indiscriminate use of antibiotics amid rising cases of cough, cold and nausea across the country. The doctors’ body had said that fever caused due to the virus would stay for five to seven days. “The fever goes away at the end of three days but the cough can persist for up to three weeks,” it added.