, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 18 – Eleven more students have been put under quarantine as an outbreak of the AH1N1 virus spread at the Kenya High School.
If the cases test positive, it would raise the number of infected students in the school to 36.
The schools Principal Rosemary Saina told Journalists on Friday that the 11 students had been isolated and were on treatment awaiting confirmation on their status.
“We have a population of 850 girls and the ones affected are only 25 and the idea is to try and control,” Ms Saina said.
“You can imagine if we close and maybe some of those children already have the disease, that would mean spreading it to more households,” she said ruling out the idea of closing down the school.
At least two of these students are in fourth form but the principal said it would not affect their sitting for exams next month because they were on medication.
A Health Official Veronica Njeri said the suspected cases had also been admitted at the school ward because they had manifested serious symptoms of the AH1N1 flu.
“Those are the ones who are seriously sick with all the signs and symptoms like they have headaches some are vomiting, nausea, joint pains, fever, they are sneezing and others coughing,” Ms Njeri said.
She said the patients were being administered the Tamiflu drug and parents of the affected students would not be allowed to see them to avoid transmission.
“We have treated like 60 students whom we have given drugs and they have gone back to class and those ones do not have the severe signs and symptoms. The government is providing the medication and the drugs are there,” she added.
She said three of the students admitted also suffered asthma which made them require special care because such ailments could worsen the condition.
Roads Minister Franklin Bett who was at the school to check on his daughter also assured parents that the situation was under control.
“I want to commend the Ministry of Public Health for the swift action they took,” he said.
“The only panic is with parents in the country side. I want to assure them the girls here are safe and they must not panic, they need not travel to come and see,” the Minister assured.
A guardian who had also come to find out the situation at the school said, “My parents have been calling me from Kisumu to find out about my small sister who is here at the Kenya High School after we heard it in the news and when I came I found learning was going on as usual and you can’t tell there is anything unusual,” said Alicia Wafula.
“So it is just to pray that everything will be okay,” she added.
It is not known how the 20 students, whose status was confirmed on Wednesday, contracted the virus coming just after the August holidays.
On Friday last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued an advice on measures that could be undertaken in schools to reduce the impact of the H1N1 influenza pandemic.
The International health body recommended that students, teachers and other staff who felt unwell should stay at home and plans should be in place and space available to isolate students and staff who became ill while at school.
WHO further recommended that the timing of school closure was critically important and said that studies suggested it had greatest impact when they were closed very early in an outbreak, ideally before one percent of the population fell ill.
“Under ideal conditions, school closure can reduce the demand for health care by an estimated 30–50% at the peak of the pandemic,” the statement read in part.
“However, if schools close too late in the course of a community-wide outbreak, the resulting reduction in transmission is likely to be very limited,” it further stated.
The statement said recommendations were drawn on recent experiences in several countries as well as studies of the health, economic, and social consequences of school closures undertaken by members of a WHO informal network for mathematical modelling of the pandemic.
The first cases of the AH1N1 influenza virus that involved Kenyans were reported in June.
This was after a student from the United Kingdom who was among 33 other British students tested positive to the flu. He and his colleagues were quarantined for six days in a Kisumu hotel.