Keep schools open says Azad, as flu settles in | india | Hindustan Times
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Keep schools open says Azad, as flu settles in

india Updated: Aug 18, 2009 08:02 IST
Sanchita Sharma

For the first time in eight days, there were no more deaths due to swine flu on Monday, but fresh infections rose to 220, up from 152 new cases on Sunday.

Only two of those who were diagnosed with H1N1 on Monday had picked up the infection abroad. The rest all caught it in India, indicating the virus is now in the environment.

“We expect further spread, irrespective of the weather conditions,” said Dr S.J. Habayeb, World Health Organization’s India representative.

The virus, though mild, is clearly here to stay. If it follows seasonal flu trends, the worst may end with the monsoons. Nothing, however, is certain.

“The transmission characteristics of H1N1 cannot be predicted yet, in contrast with seasonal influenza,” said Habayeb.

On a day when the data relating to infections made a case for scrapping airport screening, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced 24 more thermal scanners would be installed at international airports. “H1N1 has been contained to a large extent… People who have died of swine flu had either received late treatment or were suffering from a chronic disease,” said Azad.

Instead of closing schools, his ministry will follow US guidelines that recommend checking infection by cancelling large student gatherings — such as sporting events — and making it mandatory for teachers to check each student for flu symptoms, sending him (or her) home if any are noticed.

Under the new guidelines, to be announced soon, schools will have to set up quarantine facilities.