From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network
BANGALORE, Aug 14: After keeping himself busy in the unveiling of statues of Tamil poet-saint Thiruvalluvar in Bangalore and Kannada’s vachana poet-saint Sarvajna in Chennai for almost a week since August 9, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa took time off to take stock of the situation arising out of the Swine Flu or H1N1 influenza havoc in the state on Friday.
With the Chief Minister himself getting down to business by holding a review meeting with health and education department officials as also other top bureaucrats, the State Health Minister B Sriramulu also turned up in Vidhana Soudha to attend the meeting chaired by Yeddyurappa.
It may be recalled that the Congress leader Siddaramaiah had castigated Sriramulu for failing to seriously consider the swine flu disease even as the people in Bangalore and coastal region were getting panic stricken.
The former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader S Bangarappa had gone to the extent of lambasting both Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu for showing the least concern for the people affected by swine flu and keeping themselves busy in politicking, including campaigning for the ruling BJP candidates in the five assembly by-elections scheduled to be held on August 18.
`Where is the Health Minister, who is rarely seen in Vidhana Soudha and even does not bother to attend State Cabinet Meetings,’’ Bangarappa asked pointing out that the minister seemed to be behaving like the proverbial Nero, who was said to be fiddling, when Rome was burning.
The chief minister, who spoke to reporters after the review meeting in Vidhana Soudha, asserted that the Government was on full alert and taking up series of steps to augment medical staff, medicines and equipment in hospitals to check the spread of H1N1 influenza.
Making it clear that there was no dearth of funds in the supply of medicines, he said the State had a stock of 1 lakh tamiflu tablets and 500 kits which were more than sufficient to tackle the problem. ``We are ready to buy more medicines and kits, if necessary,’’ he said.
Yeddyurappa said the Government had taken steps to enlist the cooperation of many more private hospitals, apart from the already identified hospitals in the city and in the districts, to prevent the outbreak and check the disease. ``In Bangalore, the number of designated hospitals for treating the affected people has been increased to 40,’’ he said.
Special isolation wards have been created in hospitals in every district and medical and paramedical staff trained to deal with any kind of emergency, he said.
Answering questions, Yeddyurappa said there was no need to close schools and colleges as long as sufficient precautionary measures were taken. The Government had directed the Health Department to work in close coordination with Education Department to ensure that medical check-ups were conducted in all schools over the next one week, he said pointing out that over a crore of students had been subjected to routine medical check-ups so far.
As many as 3.36 lakh people have been screened at the Bengaluru International Airport so far since April 30. With 115 persons testing positive, they have been admitted in different hospitals. While 66 had been treated and cured, the remaining persons were undergoing treatment.
Meanwhile, the Health Minister, who was cornered by reporters and showered with a barrage of questions, sheepishly answered that he was ``holding half-hourly consultations with health department officials’’ even as he was away in his home district of Bellary and Kollegal, where ruling party’s electioneering responsibility has been assigned to him.
To a pointed question on why he did not bother to visit the affected areas or visit hospitals to personally monitor the situation when the state was reeling under Dengue and Chikungunya apart from the swine flu menace, Sriramulu promised to undertake inspection tours shortly.