Two private schools in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, were temporarily shut down on Tuesday amid scare of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has six positive cases in India so far, reported PTI. The step was taken as a preventive measure after the father of a student in one of the schools tested positive for the virus on Monday.
In a letter to parents, one of the schools said it will remain shut between March 4 and March 6, while the other school said it was suspending classes till March 9, and sanitising the campus. Fumigation was conducted at both the schools.
“In the wake of the recent outbreak of virus and flu we request you to not send your child to school if he/she has a cold/cough or fever,” a letter from one of the schools’ principal read, according to Business Today. “We don’t want infections to spread and the best way is precaution. Please do not send them for any test/exam either as it will not be allowed. Children found suffering from any symptoms of flu will be sent back home immediately.”
The board examinations will not be affected due to the precautionary step, the schools told parents. The decision to temporarily shut both the schools came after Delhi’s first novel coronavirus patient had hosted a birthday party that was attended by several students of one of the schools, India Today reported.
Gautam Buddh Nagar’s Chief Medical Superintendent Anurag Bhargav said one of the school buildings had been sanitised and “blood tests of five families have been sent for examination”. He added that five families had attended the birthday party hosted by the first person to test positive in Delhi.
The father of the student came to know about the infection only after the party, Bhargav said. An advisory has been issued to schools and offices in the suspected area to approach hospitals in case of concerns, he added.
The Delhi resident, whose infection was confirmed on Monday, is being treated and has been quarantined at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. He had a travel history to Italy, one of the worst-affected countries. The Air India crew who had flown the flight he was in on February 25 have been asked to stay in isolation at their homes for 14 days.
“We’ve quarantined two families of children who had dined with the family of the child in Agra,” said Gautam Buddh Nagar District Magistrate BN Singh. “And a team of doctors and CMO [Chief Minister’s Office] are in the school. There’s no reason to panic.”
A 20-bed isolation ward has been prepared at the district hospital. District officials said samples of two schoolchildren were sent for analysis, while a total of 40 people have been tested in the national Capital.
The Ministry of Health has reportedly reached out to those who were present at the birthday party. They have been advised to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
On February 20, the first person to test positive for the novel coronavirus in India was discharged from a government hospital in Kerala. The student was the last of the three patients, who had contracted COVID-19 in Kerala, to be discharged. Two new cases were confirmed on Monday – one each in Delhi and Telangana. An Italian tourist also tested positive for COVID-19 in Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had conducted an extensive review on measures to tackle the novel coronavirus. “Had an extensive review regarding preparedness on the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus,” the prime minister tweeted. “Different ministries and states are working together, from screening people arriving in India to providing prompt medical attention.”
The prime minister has also appealed for calm and said that people need to work together, and take small but important steps towards self-protection.