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Oct 31, 2009

All private school students in Coimbatore city to be screened


Students of all the 23 private schools in the city will soon be compulsorily screened for symptoms of A (H1N1) influenza, following an increase in the number of students testing positive for the flu in the last 10 to 15 days, Health Secretary V.K. Subburaj said here on Friday.

The rural areas of the district were not being included in this programme as cases were reported rarely, he told presspersons after reviewing the flu situation and preventive measures with Joint Director of Health M. Duraikannan, Deputy Director of Health S. Senthil Kumar and Coimbatore Medical College Hospital Dean V. Kumaran.

Such a massive screening of students would be done for the first time in the State by the public health machinery, he said. This had not been done so far even in Chennai, which was the other centre in the State along with Coimbatore that recorded many A (H1N1) cases.Eight of the 12 persons who tested positive here on Friday were aged below 15, he said.The Health Secretary attributed the incidence in both the cities to frequent international travel by people.

So far, 12.36 lakh passengers arriving by 8,842 international flights had been screened in the airports in the State.Totally, 1,869 people tested positive for the flu in the State. Of these 50 persons were still under house quarantine and 28 were in hospitals.

Orientation

In Coimbatore, another round of orientation would be conducted for private general physicians and hospitals on detecting early the symptoms of the flu and immediately referring the patients for tests and treatment.The Health Secretary said the orientation was necessary because awareness was low among doctors.The Dean of the CMCH and the City Health Department of the Coimbatore Corporation would conduct the orientation sessions.Assistant City Health Officer R. Sumathi and Resident Medical Officer of the CMCH P. Sivaprakasam were also present at the review.

The deaths that occurred in private hospitals were because of late diagnosis. Nothing could be done if too much time had been lost. “No one admitted to Government Hospitals died,” he pointed out. “And, we have effectively contained the impact of the flu.”Mr. Subburaj said that so far only seven persons in the State died of the flu.He said there was no such case in Coimbatore so far and there was no effort to conceal any.

The Health Secretary said oseltamivir capsules should not be sold over the counter. Medical shops authorised to dispense the drug should ask for a prescription. And, physicians should give a prescription only if the patients furnished a test report that said they were positive. He, however, said there was no need for a public health official to countersign the prescription.The drug was available only in 20 designated dispensing centres across the State and these included 10 in Chennai and two in Coimbatore.The proposed flu testing laboratory would begin functioning at the Coimbatore Medical College in another 10 days, Mr. Subburaj said.

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