Deep clean for Deccan Rd

2019-07-24 15:00
A deserted Deccan Road Primary School on Tuesday afternoon. The school will re-open on Monday following a deep cleansing of the school over the next few days.

A deserted Deccan Road Primary School on Tuesday afternoon. The school will re-open on Monday following a deep cleansing of the school over the next few days. (Moeketsi Mamane)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Deccan Road Primary has closed its doors until next Monday for a “deep chemical cleansing” following another two confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) at the school.

The school took the decision after a meeting on Tuesday morning with the provincial Health Department, Msunduzi Municipality’s environmental health department as well as specialists and doctors from Northdale Hospital.

The cleaning of the school follows the death of Giselle Chetty (9) on Friday from the H1N1 virus.

Deccan Road School Governing Body chairperson Advocate Rumen Maistry said another case of H1N1 in one of their pupils had been confirmed by the parents on Tuesday morning.

“We need parents to report [cases] to us so we can report to the Department of Health,” said Maistry.

He said there had been no mandate to shut the school down but they had been “advised” by Msunduzi’s environmental health department because of the chemicals used during cleaning processes.

“The deep cleansing will start [today]. We have people coming in to clean the toilets, the air conditioning and the classroom.

“The whole process is expected to take 72 hours but from Monday, school will go back to normal.”

He added that the teachers had created a “catch-up strategy plan” for the school days that were missed. “We are happy with management and their strategy. We know they have the children at heart. It shows the dedication of the teachers at the school and for that they must be commended,” said Maistry.

While four cases have been confirmed so far, a false report was sent out on multiple WhatsApp groups saying two children from Bombay Road had died in Northdale Hospital.

This caused massive panic among parents across Pietermaritzburg as unconfirmed reports of other schools having cases have also been spread.

Maistry said just 350 of the school’s more than 1 000 pupils had come to school yesterday.

Community members, close friends of Giselle’s parents and a councillor for the area went to Northdale Hospital yesterday to check on the reports of the two deaths. However, the hospital reported this to be untrue.

Merchiston Preparatory School sent out a notice to parents yesterday saying a child had been diagnosed with H1N1 and asked parents not to send their sons to school if they had any flu-like symptoms.

Allandale Primary School also sent out a notice to parents yesterday stating they had two suspected cases of H1N1, but later confirmed that it was not the dreaded virus.

A source close to Deccan Road Primary School said in fact, two Grade 4 pupils and a Grade 6 pupil had been hospitalised due to the H1N1 virus before Giselle’s death.

“I am not sure people were told about the other two cases. Parents are panicking because a child has died. We want our children to be safe.”

Maistry said the school reported confirmed cases of H1N1 and there had only been three reports, including Giselle.

A parent with a young child at Deccan Road Primary said she felt “relieved and less stressed” that the school had closed its doors for cleansing.

“I just hope the cleaning is done properly. I think I, and other parents, would like to see a report of how the school was cleaned and the processes that were followed to ensure everything was done correctly.

“My child is at home with the sniffles but luckily is not displaying any H1N1 symptoms but I am still monitoring her.

“I think all parents are very worried. Not just Deccan Road parents,” she said.

Spokesperson for the provincial Health Department Ncumisa Mafunda said “the passing away of any individual is a painful experience”.

Mafunda said they did not want to “rush” and say it was the H1N1 virus “as post-mortem results are still being awaited. There is no confirmation as yet.”

The Department of Education still had not responded to media queries at the time of going to print on Tuesday.

Get your flu vaccination 

A previous Witness article on the H1N1 virus published in June quoted Life Hilton Hospital emergency unit Dr David Ogg as saying “H1N1 is still a significant infection especially for people with pre-existing respiratory issues or chest infections as well as pregnant women, children under one year and people over the age of 65.”

He said while people were still admitted to hospital with the influenza A strain H2N3, the H1N1 strain was more virulent as it is a relatively new virus, and people are unlikely to have any pre-existing immunity to this strain.

He said those in the high-risk bracket had a greater chance of developing viral pneumonia, which was “difficult to treat”.

“People must not underestimate the flu, especially within the vulnerable populations. It is a major illness.”

Ogg said the best preventative step one could take against the flu was the flu vaccination.

“There are more benefits to it than disadvantages,” he said.

He added that drinking lots of fluids, taking paracetamol for fevers and lots of bed rest were very important for the recovery process.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  swine flu

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.