Wed, Jul 22, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Health body mulls school closures amid flu fears

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Department of Health said yesterday it could propose a nationwide school closure if the A(H1N1), or “swine flu,” epidemic intensifies after the end of the summer break

“Schools will be the focus of epidemic control after the summer vacation and we do not rule out suggesting that the Ministry of Education shut down schools throughout the country if the swine flu outbreak gets more serious,” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Kuo Hsu-sung (郭旭崧) said.

Kuo said the swine flu virus is spreading rapidly and mutating at a worrying rate. The number of regular flu cases recorded in Taiwan has reached several thousand, but most are mild cases, he said.

Based on those countries’ experiences, Kuo said, the CDC has elaborated plans to deal with a possible intensification of infections, particularly after local schools reopen in the fall.

“Campus flu infections are most likely to trigger ‘community cluster’ infections, so we could suggest that the Ministry of Education close all schools to contain the further spread of the virus,” he said, adding that children who have developed fever should stay at home and refrain from attending summer school projects.

Taiwan reported its first severe swine flu case on Friday. The 34-year-old man developed a fever, cough and sore throat on July 2 and was hospitalized on July 9 with abnormally fast breathing. Kuo said the man’s vital signs have improved, but that he remains in intensive care.

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