The Government Model Residential School, Peerumade, was closed on Monday after over 60 students were admitted to various hospitals since Sunday, due to alleged food poisoning.

The condition of none of the students was serious, reports reaching here said. The authorities at the Peerumade taluk hospital said that students started to arrive at the hospital with complaints of vomiting, head ache and fever symptoms by evening on Sunday. When the number of casualties increased by Monday, the hospital authorities referred those having severe symptoms to the Kottayam Medical College Hospital. 14 students were admitted there, 29 at the Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children, Kottayam, 22 at the observation unit of the Taluk hospital, Kanjirappally and two at the Taluk hospital, Peerumade. Of them, 32 are male.

The Tamil medium residential school accommodates students from standard V to Plus-I after it was upgraded this academic year. Students of Scheduled Caste and general category from Vandiperiyar, Kumily and Munnar are admitted at the school.

A team of physicians led by District Medical Officer P.J.Aloxious checked all the students at the school after opening a temporary medical unit at the school office. The preliminary inquiry shows that students showed symptoms of vomiting and giddiness after having evening food on Sunday at the hostel.

An official of the medical team which visited the school said that stale food served could have been the cause and added that food samples had been collected and sent for analytical tests at the Regional Analytical Laboratory, Kakkanad. He said that water samples were also collected in addition to the samples of milk served to the students.

District Collector T.Bhaskaran who visited the hostel and the hospitals told The Hindu that an inquiry has been ordered and if anyone was found guilty, action will be taken. He said that health officials have been directed to visit government residential schools in the district on a routine basis and ensure that quality food is served to the students in other hostels also.

He said that a meeting of the peoples representatives, parents and teachers will be convened at the school on August 22 to address the problems being faced by it. The school has been closed till September 3.

By noon, parents of the students started reaching the school to accompany their wards home. About 250 students are accommodated at various classes in the school which cater exclusively for Tamil medium students.

Meanwhile activists of Youth Congress, led by its district secretary Nikson George, held a protest march to the school premises demanding action against the guilty and ensuring quality food,basic facilities in government residential schools.

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