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H1N1 patients ostracised
Correspondent SHILLONG, AUG 23:
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Published on 24 Aug. 2009 1:12 AM IST
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Health authorities in Meghalaya have expressed concerns against the social ostracism of H1N1 patients and suspected swine flu patients, but appealed to put an end to “unnecessary panic.” “Staying away from people with suspected symptoms of H1N1 virus is a good sign of public awareness about the disease but appealed for an end to unnecessary panic or any discrimination against relatives of swine flu patients or suspected cases,” Director Health of Services Dr KH Lakiang said in a statement. Dr KH Lakiang criticised the people concerned for creating unnecessary panic by trying to shun some people on mere suspicion that they had contracted the virus or developed swine flu-like symptoms. “People should not create unnecessary panic. Those developing suspected swine flu symptoms should isolate themselves from others for 10 days and take preventive medicines,” Dr Lakiang said. He urged upon the public, especially students, not to look down upon or shun somebody just because one of his or her relatives was a swine flu patient or suspected case of the disease. His statement is significant in the light of reports that relatives of swine flu patients or those whose throat and nasal swab samples were referred to National Institute for Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICD), Kolkata were facing discrimination or being ostracised. There are reports that certain students, especially those who come from a family with members whose throat and nasal swab samples have been sent to health institutes for H1N1 virus test, have been “socially ostracised” in their respective educational institutions. “Classmates and friends are keeping away from students even after they tested negative for swine flu. Though our brother is neither a swine flu patient nor a suspected case, his classmates tried to sideline him after they came to know that someone in our family is undergoing swine flu treatment,” the sister of a boy studying in a city-based school said on condition of anonymity. Health authorities made it clear that it was a crime to ostracise anyone and people should not create unnecessary panic. He urged upon the public, especially students, not to look down upon or shun somebody just because one of his or her relatives was a swine flu patient or suspected case of the disease. Of the 32 samples sent for test, only five have turned out positive, while 11 others are still awaited, and the rest have tested negative for the deadly disease.

 
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