Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) Thursday accused the health authorities of ignoring the swine flu outbreak alert which it had 'sounded in advance,' urging the authorities to extend the winter vacation of schools till the outbreak of the virus is controlled.
In a statement, DAK president Dr Nisar ul Hassan alleged that the authorities were "indifferent and insensitive" to their alerts.
"The sudden spurt in swine flu cases across the country few months back should have alarmed health officials here but instead they chose to be in deep slumber," said Dr Hassan.
"The health officials should have prepared in advance by capacity-building and response capacities to protect people from the deadly virus."
Three people have already died because of the virus and SKIMS authorities say at least 71 people are being treated for the infection at the facility.
Earlier, they had denied reports suggesting that the hospital was treating H1N1 cases.
"Health authorities should have set up isolation wards and kept logistics available in advance to combat H1N1 outbreak," said Dr Hassan.
"The health officials instead of proactive response to the outbreak concealed laboratory-confirmed cases which resulted in alarming upswing of H1N1 patients in the valley."
The medicos' body also urged the authorities to keep schools closed until the outbreak of the deadly virus was over.
"The intervention of social distancing will reduce transmission risk of H1N1 among children," the statement added.
"Children below five years of age are at high risk and they should be vaccinated against H1N1 as the virus in them can be fatal."
Schools in Kashmir, currently closed for winter break, are scheduled to open on Feb 23.