Edu hub imported pandemic

Edu hub imported pandemic


Parag Rabade

Pune, India’s second IT hub after Bangalore and Maharashtra’s cultural and educational capital, has suddenly come into focus for all the wrong reasons. The city with perhaps the highest number of educational institutions reported an alarming number of swine flu patients infected by the fast spreading H1N1 virus in the country. The last count was 120.

For an outsider, it gives a picture of Pune being filthy and dirty  to account for such a spread. In 1990s, it was Surat, which had reported the first and the only outbreak of plague and India was shamed before the entire world. The plague outbreak was directly linked to the filth and garbage for which Surat was known for then. It took a determined effort on part of Surat’s administration and people to change Surat’s image to a clean township.

 The latest spread of swine flu in Pune has something to do with the opposite. The students from Abhinav School had gone to US for a visit and it was this trip that brought H1N1 to Pune. When the first swine flu infected student was detected in Pune in the last week of July, it caused surprise. But when a second and then third student too were detected H1N1 positive, there was shock and the school was immediately closed for a few days. In all 23 students from the same school tested positive to the deadly virus. All of them are cured now and the school has reopned.
Two more schools - the famous Symbiosis primary and high school and Seva Sadan high school too reported swine flu patients and they were immediately closed for a while. These schools are in Pune city proper. The tragic death of Rida Shaikh, a IX class student of St Anne’s, showed that schools in posh Camp area on eastern side of the city too were hit by the virus. Three more students from the same school studying in different classes were detected positive and admitted to hospital.

School quarantine
While Pune schools were hitting headlines, a residential school in Panchgani - the famous hill station in Satara district which is known for its high profile boarding schools where children of high and mighty from Mumbai, particularly those of film stars, study - had created a quarantine hall within its premises to keep 17 of its students away from others. The St Peter’s school was already shut after the students were diagnosed for swine flu, and Tamilflu treatment was immediately administered to the children.

 Some of these children had gone to US on a visit to NASA facility there and were infected by H1N1 virus. The administration's effort to prevent spread of virus outside the school apparently failed as six students from three different boarding schools from Panchgani too were infected by the same virus. They have been shifted to Satara civil hospital and quarantined in a special ward. Yet, all seems quiet and normal in Pune. The so called panic is hardly visible, except at a few hospitals.

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