With hardly six days left for the beginning of the two-month-long annual Sabarimala pilgrim season, the State Health Department has put its offices on the highest alert across the State in the backdrop of the A(H1N1) influenza threat facing the State, said Dr Dinesh Arora, Chief Health Co-ordinator.

Talking to The Hindu here on Monday, Dr Arora said the State government has taken every possible measure to check A(H1N1) influenza reaching a pandemic situation, especially at a time when as many as double the population of the State visit Sabarimala in a short span of two months.

According to him, not less than five lakh pilgrims from different parts of the country visit Sabarimala every day and the State has to be vigilant against spread of A(H1N1) influenza and the like viral diseases.

Health `help desks’

Dr Arora said as many as 100 health `help-desks’ would be set up at railway stations, bus stands, major temples and various other important pilgrim destinations enroute Sabarimala.

Male junior health inspectors will be posted at all these help desks. A 20-bed A(H1N1) Isolation Ward has been set up at Pathanamthitta General Hospital, besides another 10-bed isolation ward for A(H1N1) at the Speciality Hospital at Adoor, he said.

Screening centres

Dr Arora said a total of six screening centres with sufficient stock of Tamiflu tablets have already been opened at various healthcare institutions in the district.

He said the department has procured one lakh Tamiflu tablets exclusively for the healthcare centres at Sabarimala.

Health Minister, P.K.Sreemathy, will inaugurate the Intensive Care Unit at Kanjirappally Taluk Hospital. The Community Health Centre at Erumely too will have a functional ICU during the pilgrim season.

Masks, banners

Dr Arora said a total of 10,000 triple-layer masks have been procured for various healthcare institutions in Pathanamthitta, besides 4000 masks for for Police department.

He said, banners and display boards displaying health tips in six languages (Malayalam, English, Hindi, Tamil, Telungu and Kannada) would be kept at check-posts, railway stations, bus stands, busy junctions and in front of various major temples, especially in the three districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Idukki. A total of 10,000 banners with the message advising people that “if you have fever, cough and sore throat, postpone your pilgrimage, wait for a week, taking medicines and rest for three days,” is prepared, he said.

Pasting of stickers on vehicles passing through the check-posts and on KSRTC buses would also be carried out as part of the awareness campaign against A(H1N1) infection, he added.

Dr Arora said, electronic scroll boards giving information on health-related activities would also be installed at vantage points at Pampa and the Sannidhanam.

He said an advisory note has already been sent to Health Secretaries of all neighbouring States as part of the A(H1N1) prevention drive.

Control room

Dr Arora said for the first time, the Health department would open a 24-hour control room at the PWD Rest House at Aranmula (Phone: 9847622222) during the two-month-long Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival.

The Control room will have interactive voice response system facility with 12 lines in 6 languages will also be linked to the one at Pampa, he said. Both the control rooms will start functioning on November 14 and the staff will be given special training.

He said five life saving ambulances would also be made available at Pathanmthitta and Kottayam.

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