Two prominent schools closed; CM for concerted action

A sudden spurt in A H1N1 influenza infection among school children here over the weekend has set off an alarm among students, parents and school authorities who have started taking precautionary measures and are referring the suspected cases to hospitals. Two prominent schools in the Pink City have been closed in the wake of some students being diagnosed with the disease.

The swine flu death toll in Rajasthan so far has gone up to 13 with the death of a 24-year-old woman reported from Kota on Friday. Among the fresh cases, the figure of young and adolescent students has crossed 20, clearly underlining the spread of the influenza in the schools.

The two schools closed here are Sawai Man Singh School and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School. Other educational institutions have discontinued the daily morning assembly to avoid mass gathering of students and asked the parents not to send their children to school on detection of symptoms of infection.

Parents are generally confused about how to detect the infection. Samina Yasmin, mother of two children residing in Jawahar Nagar – where The Hindu office is situated – said this was a scary situation as students were required to attend the school for their mid-term tests. “I will not send my children to school if the conditions worsen next week.” Many parents who are terrified that their children might have contracted the virus have already stopped sending them to schools even when the institutions are open as of now. Maharani Gayatri Devi School declared off till Wednesday after one student tested positive for the flu.

“Exponential growth”

Parents in the city were seen rushing to hospitals to seek medical advice even if their children suffered from minor cold and cough. Noted paediatrician Dr. Ashok Gupta said there was an “exponential growth” in the number of children suspected to have caught the infection with the onset of winter over the weekend.

Dr. Gupta – president of the International Society of Tropical Paediatrics – said he was treating all children who were showing signs of respiratory disorders after coming into contact with confirmed cases of A H1N1 influenza. The situation was “likely to get worse and convert into an epidemic” in the days to come, he added.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, taking a serious note of the increasing number of swine flu patients, reviewed the situation at a high-level meeting here and asked the Medical and Health Department officers to deal with the diseases on a war footing. He said the doctors should be more vigilant while treating such patients.

Mr. Gehlot issued instructions for stepping up all preventive measures and increasing the number of prescribed chemist’s shops for easy availability of the swine flu drugs, besides setting up a control room to get prompt information related to the disease. The shops will be permitted to remain open round-the-clock.

An official release quoted Mr. Gehlot as saying that large hoardings should be put up indicating the symptoms of A H1N1 infection and awareness about the disease spread through print and electronic media. He also said a team of junior doctors would be constituted to make the people aware of the disease.