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Srinagar's officials on alert for swine-flu threat

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
August 18, 2009 22:17 IST
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Raj Kumar, a tourist from Maharashtra landed at the Srinagar International airport few days ago expecting a thorough medical check-up before being allowed to enter the city.

He had been told by friends and relatives that the state government has announced screening of all incoming passengers at the Srinagar airport and they believed that the check up arrangement would be in place as Kashmir was a high risk area owing to the heavy domestic and foreign tourist influx. Paradoxically, nothing like that happened after Kumar's flight landed. He collected his luggage, hired a taxi and started his pleasure trip to the happy valley.

Interestingly, groups of local students studying in Pune and Bangalore who came here to Srinagar week following the outbreak of pandemic were also not checked for the swine flu virus at the airport and they have already mingled with the local population visiting relatives and various health resorts of the valley.

Dr. M A Wani, the director health services, however, maintained everybody entering the valley now whether through the land or the air route are being led into the valley only after thorough medical check up for the virus.

"Now we are checking all incoming passengers both at the airport and on the national highway," Wani asserted. He also said the two swine flu patients whose samples had tested positive early this month had fully recovered now. "Both these patients, one a local businessman and a student were home quarantined on parental requests and treated with Tamiflu tablets have fully recovered", the top health department official said.

He also confirmed that three more persons, two students and a businessman who had returned to the valley had also tested positive for the virus and are presently home quarantined and being treated with Tamiflu for the infection. State health minister, Sham Lal Sharma says that 'we are fully geared to deal with any eventuality and adequate medicine is available with the state health department.'

Sharma said that similar arrangements are in place in Jammu region where two cases tested positive. Unlike other places the level of panic in Kashmir is low as the people believe that the virus is curable and addressed with proper medical care not fatal. Schools are functioning normally and people going about their daily chores without any protective masks despite the virus causing its appearance in the valley.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar