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Food poison alarm after mid-day school meal

Purulia, Sept. 5: The district survived a health scare last night when more than 150 children were admitted to a health centre with symptoms akin to food poisoning. All of them had the mid-day meal provided by their school.

The 165 children admitted to the primary health centre at Manbazar were released this morning after a 12-hour observation.

Twelve of them had suffered from drowsiness and nausea since having khichuri in school yesterday. The remaining students were rushed to hospital by panic-stricken parents after word about the illness spread.

Medical teams from Purulia and Barabazar rushed to Manbazar, about 220 km from Calcutta, to assist health personnel at the centre. District magistrate B.P. Gopalika and district superintendent of police V.K. Goyal went there to ensure that the situation did not go out of hand as anxious parents waited around the centre through the night.

“The children have recovered and have been sent home,” a relieved Gopalika said today. “I have set up a six-member committee led by a subdivisional officer to inquire into the illness. The report will be ready in a week.”

The distribution of cooked food in 200 schools in the district had begun from September 1. The meal scheme has not been suspended following yesterday’s incident, said Gopalika.

An hour after the students of Bashuli Primary School in Manbazar-I Block had eaten the khichuri and sabzi served around 1.30 pm, some of them went “into a kind of stupor and were not responding to external stimuli”. “Four of them were vomiting. We have collected food samples and they will be sent to Calcutta for tests,” said an official.

Police shuffle

The government today shuffled senior police officers across the state. Among them, West Midnapore superintendent K.C. Meena will now be in Burdwan. B.. Ramesh, the Burdwan police chief, will be commandant of the third battalion of state armed police.

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