Swine flu kills Deccan Rd pupil

2019-07-23 15:22
Giselle Chetty.

Giselle Chetty.

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A nine-year-old girl has died after contracting H1N1 influenza (swine flu) at a local primary school, while another child has been hospitalised with the virus. 

Giselle Chetty (9), a grade three pupil at Deccan Road Primary in Raisethorpe, died on Friday with tests confirming she had been infected with the H1N1 influenza.

Parents of children at Deccan Road Primary have spoken out against Giselle’s death and the school, saying more could have been done by the staff to stop the spread of the H1N1 virus.

Claudelle Chetty, a close friend of Giselle’s mother, said the funeral was held on Monday.

She said it had been “a very difficult and sad day” for everyone who knew her.

“She was so bubbly and warm and was always welcoming.

“Whenever I went to visit she would say, ‘come inside, would you like a cup of tea or some biscuits?’

“She was confident and charismatic. She knew what she was doing and was always bold and strong.

“She was also top of her class and recently received an award for her academic achievements.

“She was just a wonderful child. This is such a loss for the school, the community and the country,” said Chetty.

A mother with two children at the school, who asked not to be named over fears her children may be victimised, said she had no idea there had been any cases of H1N1 at the school until she got a letter from the school on Monday morning saying Giselle had died.

“I am really unhappy at how the school handled the whole situation. A child in grade four was hospitalised last week for H1N1 but only the parents of that class were informed.”

The letter, which was sent on July 18, says a pupil in grade 4D was diagnosed and hospitalised for H1N1.

“Note that there is no outbreak of the virus at the school however, should your child present any flu symptoms you are advised to seek medical attention,” said the letter.

“You are requested not to circulate this message to avoid creating a panic, however, if you have any queries you may contact the school.”

The parent said the letter should have been sent to the entire school and not only to the parents of a single class.

“They had the information. They should have let us know way before today [Monday].

“I have taken both my children out of school for the week and will be monitoring them. I am actually considering taking them to the doctor to get them tested, just in case.

“The virus is so contagious. It is not an isolated incident. Deccan Road is a big school and the children all share the same playground and toilets. They could get it from anywhere in the school.”

Another parent who asked not to be named over fears of victimisation said she found out on Friday that Giselle had died and had heard from a teacher in the school last week that there was a case of H1N1 in the school.

“We weren’t sent any letters. We only had a letter this morning to tell us Giselle had died and we need to monitor our children. I am angry they did not notify us. How many other children have been infected now?”

The woman said she had also taken her child out of school for the week.

'Only two' infections

Deccan Road Primary School Governing Body (SGB) chairperson Advocate Rumen Maistry said the school had learned of Giselle’s death on Friday.

He said on Tuesday afternoon last week, the school was told that a grade four pupil had been hospitalised with the virus and they informed the parents.

“It was an isolated case and we did not want to cause a hype in the school. When we were told that Giselle died, we had an emergency meeting on Monday with school management, two specialist doctors, the department’s school nurse, and a representative of the Department of Education. We compiled a notice informing parents of Giselle’s death and what the symptoms of the virus are. We have also asked that parents report to us if their children are diagnosed with H1N1.

“For now, there have been only two cases in a school with over 1 000 children.”

Maistry said chemical companies and cleaners were already at the school cleaning airconditioners and other parts of the school.

“If we have no other reports of the virus then school will carry on as usual,” he said.

KZN Health said they could not comment “since the department is currently awaiting information from uMgungundlovu Health District”. KZN Education said they could also not comment until they had more clarity, but sent their condolences to the family.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  swine flu

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