The death of a three-year-old girl from Erode in the isolation ward of the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) on Monday has led to the intensification of measures to prevent the spread of A (H1N1) influenza.

To protect children who come under the vulnerable category, schools in Coimbatore and Tirupur Health Unit Districts will be asked to allow students with symptoms of the flu to go on leave for a week. The move comes in the wake of Coimbatore recording the third death due the flu in about 20 days.

Deputy Director of Health Services, Tirupur, V. Vijayalakshmi (holding additional charge of Coimbatore) told The Hindu on Tuesday that a week's leave would be necessary as the incubation period of the flu causing virus was seven days.

“We have told the Chief Educational Officer and District Educational Officer in Coimbatore and Tirupur on Tuesday to issue necessary instructions to the schools on the leave for infected students,” she said.

Shweta's death, however, was no reason to trigger panic in Coimbatore, the health official contended.

“Of the three deaths that took place in Coimbatore, two persons did not belong to the district. The bank official who died early this month was from Chennai. He already had the flu when he reached Coimbatore. Shweta had the flu when she was in Erode. Ponnuswamy of Annur, who died last week, was the only person who belonged to the Coimbatore-Tirupur region, but he too contracted the virus during a trip to Kerala,” the health official explained.

Dr. Vijayalakshmi said there was no spurt in incidence. Only close family members, such as Ponnuswamy's school-going son, were infected. “We will carry out ring surveillance in the neighbourhood of the affected in order to find out whether persons who move closely with them are also infected,” she said.

Surveillance

In cities, the Corporations' health wing would carry out fever surveillance in general (in addition to the ring surveillance). Health teams under the Deputy Director would carry this out in the other areas. “We will have the Block Health Officials and their teams doing this in the rural areas,” she said.

Dr. Vijayalakshmi wanted people to test early for A (H1N1) flu for effective treatment. CMCH's Resident Medical Officer P. Sivaprakasam said 18 persons were in the isolation ward of the CMCH, including five children aged between five and eight. “Their condition is stable,” he said.

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