|Kindergarten students in Thuận Thành District receive blood tests for free yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Diệp Trương
HÀ NỘI — It was a wet Sunday morning when Thành and his wife woke up at four and travelled more than 30km from Phố Hồ Commune in Bắc Ninh Province to Hà Nội to have their three-year-old daughter tested for pork tapeworm.
At the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases (NHTD), after two hours of waiting, she still had not yet received the test.
“We do not know whether our child is infected. How can she be treated if tapeworms invade her brain?” Thành said.
Sitting next to Thành is Liên’s family.
She has let her sons, who go to Đình Tổ Kindergarten in Thuận Thành District, stay at home for a week for monitoring.
However, they can’t help feeling nervous.
“Hương Thành Company supplies pork for 19 local schools. What if your children ate dirty food? Although they have not shown any symptoms, I have them tested anyway. All families in the commune have done the same,” Liên said.
Over the last few weekends, NHTD and the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology (NIMPE) have witnessed thousands of scared parents rushing to Hà Nội with their kids after 57 children from Thanh Khương Kindergarten tested positive for the tapeworms.
Last month, pork suspected of being infected with the parasite was found in the school’s kitchen. Hương Thành Company was in charge of providing pork yet the actual sources of tapeworm remain unknown.
In NIMPE’s waiting room, Tâm from Đại Đồng Thành Commune was taking care of her child while listening to nurses.
“He has been hospitalised for three days. They have taken several samples that made me worry. I only hope he is not infected. He is too small, so it hurts me badly thinking about his condition,” said Tâm.
Rain and cold weather did not stop parents from travelling to Hà Nội.
What they are longing for is results showing their kids are safe.
Liên will not let her sons have lunch at school after the scandal, no matter if they are infected or not.
“Their grandparents will bring them home for lunch. This wastes time, but I don’t want to face a similar problem again,” she said.
Not all families can do the same.
For busy parents, it is a lot of trouble. They do not have time to pick up their children for lunch while worrying about food safety in the school kitchens.
“Only when local authorities clarify the company’s responsibilities and the school guarantees food quality, I will let my daughter eat at the school’s canteen again,” said Thành.
All parents in Thuận Thành District are waiting for investigation results from law enforcement agencies.
“It should be strictly handled to regain the trust of parents in schools,” Liên said.
By Sunday evening, 209 children in Bắc Ninh Province tested positive for pork tapeworms.
On Monday morning, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc tasked the Ministry of Health to mobilise doctors and facilities to perform tests for students in Thuận Thành District.
Bắc Ninh Province’s Department of Health and Thuận Thành District authorities on the same day offered free blood tests for students of 19 kindergartens using pork provided by Hương Thành Company.
The ministry was also asked to collaborate with the Ministry of Public Security and Bắc Ninh Province People’s Committee to conduct an investigation into the case and release results as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Training will tighten management over food at school kitchens.
Media agencies and press outlets were asked to report accurate information so as not to panic parents. — VNS
Responding to hundreds of students infected with pig tapeworms in Bắc Ninh Province, Nguyễn Văn Kinh, director of NHTD, said that the disease was not severe and patients do not need isolating.
They can have outpatient treatment over about 15 days to kill all parasites.
Kính stressed that tapeworms might be from different sources.
“If your children are suspected to have pig tapeworms, you can bring them to NHTD for consultation and tests. If you have any questions, please contact the hospital’s hotline at 19003228,” he said.
To prevent tapeworms, the Department of Preventive Healthcare under the Ministry of Health recommends people not eat raw pork or unwashed vegetables, manage manure and slaughterhouses. People with tapeworms need to receive immediate treatment. — VNS