There were indications on Tuesday that some schools in Lagos State may have also been affected by the infection which hit Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos.
PUNCH reported that some schools in the Lekki area of the state, had been shut temporarily, while pupils had been released for treatment.
A source said schools not shut had been taking preventive measures against the invading sickness.
“The schools affected are high-profile schools like Queen’s College,” he added.
Our correspondent had reported that just two weeks after pupils of Queen’s College resumed, a large number of them fell ill.
Many of the pupils were said to have been released to their parents as the school’s sickbay was allegedly filled with sick schoolchildren.
The school’s Parent-Teacher-Association Chairman, Mr John Ofobike, had claimed that 1,000 pupils were sent home over the problem.
But a former President of the Old Girls Association, Prof Frances Ajose, said it was an attempt to blackmail the school’s Principal, Dr Yakubu Oyinloye.
The Lagos State Government in a statement on Tuesday said there was a health challenge not only at Queen’s College, but also at several schools.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said they were air-borne, flu-like illnesses.
He noted that a team comprising officials of the state epidemiology unit, primary health care services and environmental health department of Lagos Mainland Local Government was dispatched to unravel the cause of the illnesses.
Abayomi, while reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, explained that the surveillance unit identified “a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infection,” characterised by cough, catarrh, fever and weakness.
He said, “Findings, according to a review of health records in the school’s sickbay, revealed that 89 pupils came to the clinic with influenza-like illnesses.”
The commissioner said the incidence was not an outbreak, but the “excess number of cases needed to be investigated.”
He added, “As we await a comprehensive report of the investigation being conducted, I would like to appeal to stakeholders of Queen’s College, other affected schools and residents of Lagos State to remain calm and ensure strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene at all times.”
He urged parents not to send their children to school if they had features of upper respiratory tract infection such as cold or flu-like symptoms, adding that a doctor must review them.
Abayomi stressed the need for pupils to avoid sharing personal items, including spoons, handkerchiefs and toothbrushes.
Meanwhile, the Queen’s College Old Girls Association on Tuesday said it had investigated the case, adding that the result of its investigation revealed that only two pupils were at the sickbay as of September 30.
In a statement by the General Secretary of the association, Ayomide Onakoya, the group said, “A review of the register provided by the external medical doctor who consults for the school showed that as of September 30 a total of 85 girls had been sent home since Queen’s College resumed on September 14, 15 and 21.
“The first cases came in on September 24 and 25. Of the 85 girls sent home, 24 have returned to school.
“The symptoms observed and common to all the pupils taken to the sickbay included cough, runny nose and fever; some were low-grade, and some ran high; indications of upper respiratory tract infection.”