81 new swine flu cases in Maharashtra, Thane civic schools shut


Mumbai: Maharashtra, which has witnessed seven of India’s 10 swine flu deaths, Tuesday recorded 81 new cases, taking to 408 the total number of people infected in the state , while the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) ordered a five-day closure of all schools under it.

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Among the new patients, 74 were in Pune, six in Panchgani and one in Mumbai, State Swine Flu Control Room head Pradip Awati said.

Of the people under treatment in various hospitals, six in Pune’s Sassoon Hospital and two in Mumbai’s Hiranandani Hospital are serious, he said.

“They are all on ventilators and we are constantly monitoring their condition,” he added.

In the meantime, a whopping 35,000 people in Pune have been screened for H1N1 and another 4,500 in Mumbai as panicky citizens rushed to various screening centres opened in public and private hospitals.

Among the seven deaths in the state, five have been in Pune and two in Mumbai.

Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Sharvari Gokhale said Tuesday evening that the latest (second) victim in Mumbai, who passed away Monday morning, was suffering from pneumonia.

“After her death, the Noor Hospital sent her blood samples for check which were received today and were found positive for swine flu,” Gokhale told media persons.

Shahida Abdul Aziz Warsi, a 63-year-old resident of Mumbra suburb of adjoining Thane district, passed away Monday, becoming the seventh victim of swine flu in the state.

Even as the Mumbai civic administration decided not to shut down educational institutions in the city, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) ordered a five-day closure of all schools under it, an official said.

While Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak said “the current situation does not warrant steps like Pune” to shut down schools and malls, the civic administration was taking a poll of people over this issue.

“After two days, all educational institutions are getting a three-day break. Moreover, there’s no guarantee that swine flu will disappear after a few days just as it had come,” Phatak said.

Phatak pointed that even many school principals who interacted with him expressed reservations on shutting educational institutions in the city.

But senior TMC official R.D. Kendre said the civic body’s education department had issued orders to shut down civic schools – as opposed to private schools – in its jurisdiction till Sunday as a precautionary measure in view of the swine flu epidemic.

In Mumbai, some private schools, including the prestigious Cambridge School in Kandivli suburb, issued advisories to parents on the dos and don’ts, precautions in school and outside. It has also permitted students to wear masks to school if they want.