A total of 83 students of the Mfantsipim School in Cape Coast have so far been treated for the Pandemic Influenza H1N1.
The number included the 10 confirmed cases of infection among the students after tests by the Noguchi-Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
Six other pupils of the Ayipey L.A. Primary and Junior High School (JHS) in the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa District of the Central Region have also been diagnosed with the influenza.
While the Ayipey L.A. Primary and JHS had been closed down for two weeks, authorities of the Mfantsipim School have been advised by the Metropolitan authorities to liaise with the appropriate health agencies for the effective management of the outbreak.
Addressing a news conference at the school yesterday, the Metropolitan Director of Health, Dr. Joseph Nuertey said the situation was under control, saying, “there is no need to panic”.
He explained that the infected students were in good condition and stressed the need for people to calm down.
He said that the health directorate was providing a 24-hour service to the school in addition to a stand-by ambulance to help in emergency cases.
Dr J.B. Eleeza, the Central Regional Deputy Director of Health said closing down the school would further worsen the situation indicating that the most vulnerable were infants and the aged.
Giving reasons for closing down the Ayipey L.A. Primary and JHS, he said, it was because they were day schools and the pupils live within he community.
The headmaster Mr Koame Mieza Edjah said the school authorities were unhappy about the situation but could not allow the students to leave the campus to infect other people.
He pleaded with parents not to visit the school to prevent further spread of the disease.
“We plead that they give us a break for the next two weeks “ he added.
The Metropolitan health directorate has provided students with masks or advised to use handkerchiefs to cover their noses to prevent any infection.
Meanwhile at an emergency news conference on Saturday to announce the outbreak of the pandemic in the region, the Central Regional Minister Mrs. Ama Benyiwa-Doe advised that visits to the Mfantsipim School should be limited but not restricted.
“I wish to emphasise that Mfantsipim School is not being closed down: the students will remain on campus for effective management of the outbreak” she stressed.
Mrs Benyiwa-Doe advised parents and guardians not to rush to the school to pick their wards since that would worsen the spread of the disease.
The public, especially, heads of educational institutions, she said should be on high alert and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility.
Mrs Benyiwa-Doe said that the Regional and Municipal Health Teams had been directed to work closely with the staff and students of Mfantsipim School to manage the cases, maintain surveillance and ensure effective could of the situation on campus.
The Regional Director of Health, Dr Samuel Kwashie explained that the region had a sensitive surveillance systems to identify and contain the disease.
From Mpraeso, Agnes Opoku Sarpong reports that the HINI pandemic has broken out its at the Mpraeso Senior High School in the Eastern Region.
Two students have been confirmed as having the virus.
A source at the school told the Times on Sunday that the two students were confirmed from 33 suspected cases at the school, adding that the students had returned from mid-term when the symptoms began to show.
He said the students fell ill on March 23, and were sent to the Holy Family Hospital t Nkawkaw where they were diagnosed with the flu.
Dr Eric Odei, Kwahu South District Director of Health Services told the Times that samples of throat specimen were taken from the students at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research where it was confirmed that it was HINI influenza.
He said the cases were not severe, stressing that the affected students have been treated of the disease.
Dr Odei advised that whenever there was an outbreak of the pandemic, those affected should be isolated for treatment rather closing down a school for example, to avoid spread of the pandemic.
He said it was the first time an outbreak had occurred in the area and that measures were being put in place to educate the people about the pandemic, including prevention and early detection.
The Pandemic Influenza HINI is caused by a virus that affects the respiratory system.
Its symptoms are fever, cough or sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea.
Complications of the disease include pneumonia and difficulty in breathing. Death may occur if severe complication (severe pneumonia) occurs.
Influenza viruses are mainly spread from one person to another through droplets released during coughing a sneezing.
Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or holding objects contaminated with the influenza viruses and then toneting their own mouth, nose or eyes.