Swine flu panic grips City

Swine flu panic grips City

Disease spreading fast; two schools shut

Swine flu panic grips City

But the panic was acutely perceptible in Bangalore, where two schools declared a week-long holiday and many more announced shorter closures.

Frank Antony Public Junior School, where a seven-year-old tested positive for the influenza, and Vidya Sagar School, where a five-year-old was found carrying H1N1 virus, will remain closed for a week. FAPS-Junior has also rescheduled the first term examination to August 18. 

As a preventive measure, Ryan International School at Whitefield, National Public School, Indiranagar and a few other schools have also announced closure for two days.  

Caution was not restricted to  schools. Over 350 patients thronged the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) in the course of the day. At least 60 throat swab samples were collected from patients and sent to the laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans). Most of the panic-stricken people were referred by private practioners.

RGICD doctors were visibly exhausted by the constant flow of patients seeking screening. “Even patients with simple common cold are coming for screening, making it difficult for us to categorise them”, complained a doctor. But none of the doctors were ready to take any chances.

Lack of medicines

Meanwhile, the Nimhans laboratory ran out of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) kits and reagent chemicals. Nimhans laboratory in-charge and Neuro-Virology department head Dr V Ravi said: “The equipment including PCR kits have to be imported from the US and it will take time till it reaches the laboratory.”  According to Dr Ravi, the PCR machine can handle only 10 samples at a time and conducts four different tests simultaneously.

On its part, the State Government urged school managements not to panic and desist from closing down schools. After a high-level meeting of health department officials chaired by Chief Secretary Sudhakar Rao in Bangalore, Health Commissioner P N Srinivasachari said the present situation did not warrant declaring holiday for schools to check the spread of the virus.

But, he admitted the virus had spread to the local community with 17 people testing positive in the last five days. None of these patients had been abroad and had contracted the infection from others.  Ten more private hospitals in Bangalore were allowed to treat H1N1 suspects, besides the existing 13 designated hospitals.  One lakh Tamiflu tablets have been distributed to various hospitals.

The health department has started screening one crore students from standard one to 10 across 46,000 schools in the State. A control room and a helpline –– 1056 –– will soon provide necessary details.