Drop assembly, schools told

Virus spread unabated in Bangalore, 12 fresh cases reported across State

Schoolchildren wearing protective masks in a school in Bangalore . File Photo AFP

According to experts, the steadily rising number of deaths and A(H1N1) positive cases indicate a possibility of increased multiplication of the virus.

Twelve fresh cases of influenza A(H1N1) were confirmed in the State on Monday taking the total number to 172. Of the cases confirmed on Monday, 11 are from Bangalore and one from Belgaum.

With five deaths due to A(H1N1) infection, the City is second to Pune in the number of people succumbing to the deadly contagion.

In the midst of this gloomy picture, the Union Health Ministry on Monday issued fresh guidelines according to which morning assembly meetings in schools would be dispensed with soon to contain the spread of the A(H1N1) virus. This would make it mandatory for class teachers to check each student for symptoms of the disease. The guidelines are expected to be issued in a couple of days, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told a group of senior journalists.

“It is being made mandatory for each teacher to go from seat to seat in the class to check for symptoms of flu, identify the student and immediately sent him or her back with the advice that they should stay at home for a week,” he said.

Spelling out the steps being taken by the government, he said a new vaccine was expected to be developed in the next five to seven months for which the World Health Organisation has given the seed from Atlanta-based Centre for Disease Control. A new law was being prepared to replace the century-old Epidemic Act to include more pandemic diseases in its list to effectively deal with such situations, he said. The minister said 24 more thermal scanners will be installed at international airports in the country. Azad said there were six private laboratories in Delhi to test the A(H1N1) samples in addition to the existing three facilities.

The task force set up to explore response to the disease is expected to submit its report on Tuesday, he said. He also said people who have died of the disease had either received late treatment or were already suffering from a chronic disease and hence have no immunity.

As far as Karnataka was concerned, State Health and Family Welfare Principal Secretary I R Perumal said: “Only those categorised as category C patients will be subjected to swab tests. Others will be administered Tamiflu tablets.

“Patients who show signs of breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, sputum mixed with blood and bluish discolouration of nails will require testing and immediate hospitalisation (Category C).”

Keeping Bangalore’s weather in mind, people will have to follow the Health Department’s guidelines more strictly. Manipal Hospital’s infectious diseases head Dr Purnima Parthasarathy said: “People with flu-like symptoms should cover their mouths while sneezing or coughing, wash their hands at regular intervals and take more of fluids”. Overcautious people are being seen wearing masks while on the road, but doctors say everyone need not wear a mask. In this context, physician Dr Vishnu Hayagriv said: “Masks are meant only for health staff and infected patients”.

 B Putanna of the India Meteorological Department, Bangalore, said on Monday: “The City received heavy rains last night which crossed 7 cms. According to the forecast, the State is likely to receive more rains in the next two days”. On Monday, children were seen entering schools with masks as a precautionary measure. While a few schools extended closure by two to three days in view of the H1N1 Influenza and the weather, others are on a sanitising spree.

National Public School has declared that there would be no classes for students from lower kindergarten tthrough Standard Class V till August 24, while classes will resume for Standards VI through X from Tuesday.

Frank Anthony Public School, which was the first to have a seven-year-old student test positive for H1N1 Influenza, resumed classes for FAPS-Junior. Schools like Bishop Cotton Boys and Bishop Cotton Girls School have told parents not to send their wards to school for the next two days.

DH News Service

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