Barely a week after the H1N1 2009 influenza otherwise known as swine flu hit some schools in the Greater Accra and Eastern regions, the pandemic influenza has reared its head at Mfantsipim Senior High School in the Central regional capital, Cape Coast, where 10 students have been infected.
Two other pupils of the Ayipey LA Primary and Junior High School in the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa district in the region have also been infected with the H1N1 virus.
In view of this development, the Central Regional Minister, Mrs Ama Benyiwa Doe, at an emergency meeting on Saturday ordered the immediate closure of Ayipey School while students of Mfantsipim have also been asked to remain on campus for effective management of the outbreak.
According to the minister, the closure of the Ayipey School and the order for students of Mfantsipim to remain on campus will help control the spread of the disease.
Mrs Doe disclosed that all infected students have been put on treatment and advised parents not to panic to withdraw their children from the school, but instead limit their visits to the school in order not contract the pandemic.
In light of the above measure, Mrs Benyiwa Doe has directed the regional and municipal health teams to work closely with the staff and students of Mfantsipim School to manage the cases; maintain surveillance and ensure effective control of the situation on campus of the school.
She said a rapid response medical team has also been dispatched to Ayipey to treat the reported cases; intensify education in the community and take more specimens for testing at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for medical research since no lab in the region has the facilities to conduct the diagnosis.
The minister further averred that following the outbreak of the disease, her office convened a regional security council meeting together with the regional health directorate on best to address the problem.
She said the meeting at the time was aimed at educating heads of second cycle institutions in the region to awaken their alertness and control measures of the pandemic influenza, adding that she was of the firm belief that the heads of schools that attended the meeting will put into practice whatever they came to learn now that disease has reached the region.
Mrs Benyiwa Doe added that consequently surveillance of the disease in the affected areas have not only been intensified but extended to all other districts and a number of institutions in the region.
She, however, advised the public to be on high alert and report all suspected cases to the nearest hospital or health facility since laboratory test and treatment for the pandemic influenza is free.
FROM: MAGDALENE SEY, CAPE COAST