CHITRAL: The 18 government girls’ schools, which were closed on Sept 10 after reports of chickenpox outbreak, reopened on Monday, as the health department accused the district administration of closing the whole schools instead of shutting only the classes where the suspected cases were reported.

It is to mention here that girls’ schools in Thoriandeh Ayun, Bakrabad, Sahan Ayun, Tar Sheshi Koh, Mori Bala and Shahnigar had reported one suspected patient each, while two suspected patients each were reported from schools in Mori Payeen, Sufaid Arkari, Mughlandeh and Lawi. The total number of patients in seven other schools was between three and 10, and the highest number of 22 cases was reported from a school in Beshqer Bala.

Lower Chitral district health officer Dr Fayaz Rumi told Dawn that teams of health department had visited the schools after the district education officer (female) had claimed the outbreak of the disease there. However, he said the teams didn’t find any confirmed case of chickenpox.

Mr Rumi said the teams had found only 94 suspected cases of chickenpox in 18 schools and had recommended imposing micro-smart lockdowns, meaning only shutting the classes where the affected cases were reported.

He said a hype had been created by teachers regarding the prevalence of the contagious disease, but the health teams found the reports sent by the schools inaccurate as the students had normal rash, mosquito bites or vitiligo.

It is to mention here that the DHO had written a letter to the deputy commissioner on Sept 9, asking for imposing micro-smart lockdown in the schools, but instead the whole schools were closed down for a week.

When contacted, Lower Chitral deputy commissioner Mohammad Ali Khan claimed the schools were closed on the advice of the health department.

The district education officer (female) could not be contacted to get her version as she did not respond to the repeated calls.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2023

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