JHELUM - At least 66 female students lost consciousness while 38 of them were hospitalised in serious condition as a result of anti-dengue fumigation carried out in Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Jhelum’s Domaily area Saturday.

The critically affected girls were taken to the District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Jhelum, after about three hours when ambulances arrived at the incident.

The headmistress of the school had ordered that the school’s main entrance and exit gates be closed during school hours on Saturday, due to which the parents of affected students, who rushed to the school after being informed, were forced to climb the institution’s walls to enter the premises.

Authorities were not informed about the incident until it was reported on media. Executive District Officer (EDO) for Education Khalid Mehmood said that the school was fumigated after school hours on Friday. But the vapour, he said, was trapped in the classrooms and caused the girls to collapse when they entered the rooms next day.

Medical Superintendent Dr Shaukat Mahmood said the condition of the affected students was out of danger, with many of them having been discharged.

Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident, after which Punjab Minister for Health Rana Mashood, Health Adviser Khwaja Salman Rafiq and Punjab Chief Sectary Khizar Hayat Gondal arrived at the scene.

According to the provincial health minister, the school’s principal arranged for dengue fumigation at the school through a local vendor who had allegedly used substandard pesticide in large amounts. Authorities arrested the government school’s headmistress, watchmen and the local pesticide-seller.

CM Shahbaz Sharif later chaired a meeting which took place at the District Coordination Officer's (DCO) office through video link. The meeting was attended by Punjab chief secretary, health minister, health adviser and members of the national and provincial assemblies.

Shahbaz while taking strict action on becoming the incidents in Jhelum, Karachi has issued orders of immediate suspension of DCO Jhelum, EDO Health Jhelum, EDO Education Jhelum and TMO.

Orders of suspension of DCO Attock, EDO Health Attock, EDO Education Attock and TMO have also been issued in a similar incident, happened in a school of Jand, Attock.

The chief minister said that besides best laboratories of the country, samples of anti-dengue spray in both the schools will also be analyzed from a laboratory abroad. He said that further action will be taken in the light of the results of tests of these samples. Shahbaz Sharif also took strict notice of becoming the condition of female students serious due to anti-dengue spray in a school of Jhelum and sought a report from Advisor Health, Secretary Health and the administration.

He also constituted an inquiry committee for investigation of the incident of becoming the condition of the female students serious due to anti-dengue spray. The inquiry committee comprising Commissioner Rawalpindi Division and Dr.Wasim Akram will review every aspect of the incident and submit a report and also determine the persons responsible of negligence.

Shahbaz also ordered to get checked the standard of anti-dengue spray carried out in a school from the laboratory. He ordered investigation of the incident of anti- engue spray without protective measures and directed that best treatment facilities should be provided to the affected female students and proper care be taken.

He directed to fix the responsibility of showing negligence during anti-dengue spray and strict action be taken against them. He said that preventive measures evolved for anti-dengue spray should be ensured at every cost.