Massive mumps  outbreak forces closure of two schools

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Western Province chief minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday ordered the temporary closure of two schools in Kalutara over an outbreak of mumps among children.

Ranatunga, who is also the Provincial Minister of Education, told The Island that the two schools were Bombuwala Maha Vidyalaya and Bombuwala Primary School.

"After consulting the Medical Officer for Health in the area, we decided to close the two schools," he said adding that the date to reopen the schools would be decided later.

Ranatunga said that they would discuss with Principals and teachers of the two schools and will decide how to make up the lost lessons by holding classes on Saturdays or after school once they reopen.

Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Kalutara Dr. Thushara Vassgunawardena said that nearly 500 students of the Bombuwala Primary School and nearly 200 students of the Bombuwala Maha Vidyalaya were affected by mumps during the last two weeks.

"Not only schoolchildren, but also around 300 of villagers are affected," he said.

Dr. Vassgunawardena said that the incubation period of mumps was around 16 – 18 days and more patients could be expected.

Acting epidemiologist of the National Institute of Health Sciences, Kalutara, Dr. Lakmini Magodawatta said that they advised education authorities to close the two schools to prevent spread of the disease.

She said that they already took necessary actions to stop the outbreak.

"We are monitoring the situation daily," Dr. Magodawatta said adding that they expected to reopen the schools soon.

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