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Schools shut due to swine flu panic
Bangalore/Ahmedabad, Aug 11 (IANS/AGENCIES):
Published on 12 Aug. 2009 12:30 AM IST
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One more school in Bangalore shut Tuesday because of the spreading influenza A (H1N1) virus, taking the number of schools in the tech hub to declare a holiday due to the disease to three. Though no student had tested positive for the swine flu, Shishu Griha School announced it was closing for five days as a precaution. Principal Sujatha Mohan said it was not a hasty decision. "The school will be closed as part of precautionary measures and it is not a hasty decision," Mohan told IANS. The school will reopen on Monday. On Monday, Frank Anthony Public Junior School and Vidya Sagar School announced they were shutting down for a week after they reported one swine flu case each. "We've decided to keep the junior section, till Class 5, of the school closed. The senior section is having normal classes," said a Frank Anthony Public School official. Other schools might follow suit. "Children are vulnerable to swine flu. We're confused. Parents are anxious about the safety of the children. With swine flu spreading fast, we are clueless about how long we will be able to keep our school open," said the headmistress of a reputed private school in the city. However, authorities have requested people not to panic, saying the government was taking measures to check the spread of the disease. Principal Secretary (Health) I.R. Perumal said the present situation did not warrant holidays for schools. "However, children with swine flu like symptoms should not come to school and parents need to take such children to hospitals and do proper health checking," Perumal told IANS. The government has decided to establish a control room and start a helpline - 1056 - to provide details and measures to check the spread of H1N1 virus from Tuesday. Anxious people with flu symptoms continued to throng designated city hospitals for a check up. "Around 350 people came to check themselves of flu related symptoms Monday. We've collected the nasal and throat swabs of 60 people," said Shashidhar Buggi, director of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases. There have been 92 confirmed H1N1 cases in Karnataka. H1N1vaccine by November Cadila Pharmaceutical Limited, an Ahmedabad-based unlisted pharma major, hopes to be the first to launch the vaccine for swine flu virus H1N1 by November this year! According to TNN report, CPL had set up a joint venture (JV) on July 9 with the US-based vaccine maker Novavax for manufacturing of vaccines, including one for swine flu. The JV company called CPL Biologicals Pvt Ltd is filling application with Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) this week for phase one clinical trial for swine flu vaccine. Company officials were confident Cadila will be the first Indian pharma company to produce the swine flu vaccine. “Novavax has already received permission for pre-clinical trials from US Federal Drug Administration,” IA Modi, chairman and managing director, CPL, told TOI. Modi said the vaccine is expected to be available in November 2009 if permission for clinical trial comes from the government immediately. The government has already decided to clear swine flu related applications on fast track basis. Modi said to protect from swine flu pandemic, two dosages of the vaccine are required over two weeks. The company initially intends to produce 2 million vaccine on a monthly basis and scale up production to cater to global demand, Modi said. “Sky is the limit as far as production is concerned,” he said. The JV has already started building a facility costing Rs 100 crore in the CPL campus at Bhat to produce the vaccines. The new facilities will be operational after one-and-a-half years but the company will be able to launch the vaccine in November, using existing manufacturing capacity of CPL. CPL has 80% equity and Novavax 20% in the JV. It may be pointed out that Cadila Pharma also holds 5.75% equity stake in Novavax Inc USA and has a position on the board of directors of Novavax.

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