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Chaos, panic, anger: Flu fear hits Pune hard
Published on 6 Aug. 2009 1:38 AM IST
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Wearing face masks, hundreds of anxious persons including children rushed to a referral hospital to take tests for the swine flu virus leading to chaos and police had to be called in to control the crowd. Two days after a 14-year-old Pune school girl succumbed to the deadly virus to become India’s first swine flu fatality, there was a sense of panic in the City, as doctors and authorities tried to calm frantic parents with children thronging the designated Naidu hospital for infectious diseases to take H1N1 influenza tests. The staff at the Naidu hospital was clearly understaffed to handle the sheer numbers and couldn’t manage the crowd when furious parents barged into the quarantine ward. Situation turned chaotic when a young girl, who came with flu-like symptoms, was diagnosed with tonsilitis. The agitated parents refused to accept the diagnosis because of fear following Rida’s death. Rida was wrongly diagnosed with pneumonia by a private hospital. “After Rida’s death, no private doctor is willing to take our case. My daughter has been down with fever for the past 10 days and there are no facilities at Naidu hospital. What do we do?” an agitated mother of the girl told journalists. Sensing the panic, the state government declared there were two more centres - Aundh and YCM in the suburb of Pimpri - designated for swine flu testing. But the two questions that most are asking is why there are just three hospitals designated for screening and testing of flu suspects and why private clinics have been kept out. There are not enough hospitals and testing facilities to diagnose and contain the virus; and the Maharashtra government maintains that private hospitals will not be allowed to treat swine flu cases. But Maharashtra government says Pune is prepared to handle the situation. CNN/IBN reported that the state Health Department has, however, issued fresh guidelines to schools in Pune. They say that any school where students from two classes are affected will be shut down and classes will be suspended in schools even if one student is confirmed affected. All principals from Pune schools held a meeting on Wednesday to decide on a strategy to contain the spread of the flu. And given the public anger over Rida’s death, authorities are now looking at the possibility of her having contracted the flu from the private clinic she consulted. They’re trying to track down those who may have been in contact with Rida and her doctor. Meanwhile, three more cases were reported in Pune on Tuesday, taking the total number of cases there to 107. The state government is also mulling action against Pune’s Ruby hospital that conducted the test in Rida’s case. It will also take legal opinion to act on the Jehangir hospital’s reply to the show cause notice. Parents need to know • If your child has fever, throat infection, body ache, consult doctor. • Must go to a doctor at any government facility meant for swine flu. • Swine flu testing is done only at government hospitals. • Nose and throat swabs will be taken and tested. • Child will not be quarantined if there are no symptoms. • If clinical symptoms exist, child will be hospitalised, and tamiflu will be given only if the tests are positive. • Act early to ensure quick recovery. • Rapid screening advised by private hospitals not legal. • Do not go for rapid screening as it’s not 100 per cent accurate. In times of crisis the worst thing is to panic so if you or your family member is having flu-like symptoms without wasting time go to the nearest designated hospital or doctor and get tested if he advises. If you have any queries don’t listen to rumours and panic, call toll free helplines: 1075 or 1800-11-4377. Swine flu is certainly curable with timely intervention, correct diagnosis and a five-day medication. Precautions to be taken: • A mask to cover your nose and mouth is a must. These are not just regular masks but a special one called N-95 which filter microbes in the air that you inhale and exhale. • A mask is a must when you are in a high-risk situation particularly when you have to go to a hospital to get tested and you have to be in the waiting room. Also keep the mask on when you are in a crowded place. • Cover your mouth surely while coughing and sneezing turn your head and cough into your shoulder. • Wash your hands in case there is body contact with someone who’s got cold and cough. (Courtesy: NDTV) MASKED FEARS: Chaos at Pune’s Naidu hospital on Wednesday as parents crowd to get wards tested.

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