Punjab schools ordered to shut for four days over pink eye outbreak

Minister says eye surgeons put on standby in hospitals n Confirms arrests in injection scandal

LAHORE  -  In a major development on Wednesday, the Punjab gov­ernment announced clo­sure of all public and private schools for four days to con­trol the spread of pink eye after health authorities re­corded highest number of in­fections in the province. 

“All public and private schools of the province shall remain closed from Thursday 28-09-023 till Sunday 

01-10-2023,” says a notifi­cation issued by the School Education Department on Wednesday 

According to health officials, the highest number of infec­tions in the province was re­ported in Lahore. A large number of students of schools were complaining of eye in­fections. There were also re­ports that school administra­tions were already allowing students to stay home as soon as they contract the virus and were urging parents to take special care of their children.

Medical experts say pinkeye is spreading rapidly in densely populated cities.

Following the surge in such cases, the Punjab School Edu­cation Department issued a no­tification announcing four-day holidays.


Punjab Minister for Prima­ry and Secondary Healthcare Dr Jamal Nasir said on Wednes­day that eye surgeons in gov­ernment hospitals across Pun­jab were now on standby round the clock to handle pink eye cas­es while adequate supplies of eye drops had been distributed to ensure swift treatment.

In a press statement, he em­phasised the government’s commitment to combating the pink eye outbreak. He urged the citizens to contact the helpline 1033 for treatment and guid­ance related to pink eye. He re­assured the public that Pink eye was not a dangerous disease and poses no threat to vision. He stressed that the govern­ment had established special treatment centers at Holy Fam­ily Hospital Rawalpindi, Mayo Hospital Lahore, and Nishtar Hospital Multan to provide effi­cient care to Pink eye patients.

The minister said pink eye was a recurring seasonal phenome­non, especially during the mon­soon season, urging affected in­dividuals to take precautions. His advice included regular eye washing, the use of protec­tive glasses, and keeping per­sonal belongings separate from others to prevent the spread of the disease. Punjab’s healthcare system remains committed to addressing the pink eye situa­tion, and citizens were encour­aged to reach out to the helpline for any medical concerns relat­ed to this condition, he added.

‘Avastin injections scandal’

In a significant development, Dr Jamal Nasir, the Punjab’s Minister of Primary and Sec­ondary Health, revealed that two individuals involved in fill­ing and selling Avastin injec­tions in small syringes were apprehended. This revelation comes as part of an ongoing in­vestigation into the potential­ly harmful injections. In a state­ment issued on Wednesday, Dr Nasir disclosed that the initial phase of the inquiry concerning the impact of these injections on patients’ vision is nearing com­pletion. The Primary Health De­partment has commenced the collection of patients’ records on a dedicated dashboard.

The exact number of affected patients will be determined and announced once the dashboard information is processed. As of now, 68 patients are on record, and this figure may rise by an additional 10 to 15 cases.

Regarding the impact of the in­jections on patients’ vision, Dr. Nasir explained that the true con­dition of patients’ eyes will only become clear once the infection is under control. He provided an update on the situation at Mayo Hospital, where 20 patients are being treated. Out of these, 18 have already undergone eye cleaning procedures, and infec­tion treatment is ongoing. In Multan, two out of three patients have received treatment, while the third patient underwent an operation in an attempt to save his eye. Fortunately, there have been no reported cases of pa­tients under treatment affected by Avastin injections in Rawal­pindi and Bahawalpur.

In a move to further investi­gate the quality and safety of Avastin injections, samples have been sent to multiple drug test­ing laboratories. The results of these laboratory analyses are expected to arrive in 10 to 15 days. Dr. Nasir emphasized that the Drug Testing Laboratory of the Primary Health Department is certified by the World Health Organization. Dr. Nasir made it clear that if the injected samples are found to be substandard or harmful, those responsible for filling small syringes with these injections will be held account­able. Additionally, a notice has been issued to a private hospital in Lahore suspected of engaging in the illegal filling of small sy­ringes with Avastin injections.

This situation is rapidly evolv­ing, and further updates will be provided as the investigation unfolds.

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