KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s counter-swine-flu directive to catch and isolate pigs, which are not carriers or transmitters of the H1N1 virus, has baffled civic officials even as thousands of people here started wearing masks as a precautionary measure.
“The H1N1 virus was first detected in pigs and hence the name swine flu even though pigs do not transmit the virus to humans. It is transmitted among humans through contact and even when an infected person coughs or sneezes as it is an air-borne disease,” said a senior doctor with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s health department.
However, the corporation has directed the officers of its solid waste management department to start a drive against pigs on Thursday.
“We will first request pigsty owners to shift their pigs outside the city. Or else, we will catch and shift them out,” an official said.
With the news of swine flu spreading in the state, five persons dying and around 80 others being infected, panic has gripped the city population. Several mask vendors have set up shops on pavements and are doing brisk business.
Sonu Saha, a vendor of surgical masks, said: “These masks are made in China and are very cheap. I have been selling two kinds at the rate of Rs 30 and Rs 20. Each day I sell at least 100 masks, and since last week I have sold more than 1,000 pieces.”