Summer camp activities will proceed as scheduled despite A(H1N1), or swine flu, cluster infections involving students in such programs, a Ministry of Education official said yesterday.
“A(H1N1) flu is a category-four statutory communicable disease, just like other forms of flu, said Wang Chun-chuan (王俊權), director of the ministry’s Physical Education Department.
“Since no stricter regulations have been imposed to halt the spread of the disease, summer camp activities can go ahead as usual,” Wang said.
The ministry will ask students attending the camps to maintain rigorous personal hygiene.
The ministry has organized 110 camp programs for students this summer, some of which have been going on for more than a month. Some campgoers were among those in the recent A(H1N1) cluster infections.
Wang said the ministry sees no need to suspend the camps for now, as long as the campsites are kept clean and students follow personal hygiene rules.
He reminded parents, however, that children should not attend camp activities if they show flu symptoms, such as a fever and sore throat.
As for schools offering summer courses, Wang said the authorities at each school could decide for themselves whether to shut down if an A(H1N1) case was confirmed at their location, because summer courses are not formal school days.
The ministry would wait until closer to the start of the new school year to decide on school closures if there were still new cluster infections being reported at the end of next month, Wang said.
As of Saturday, 12 A(H1N1) cluster infections had been confirmed in Taiwan.
Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), an epidemiologist and former Department of Health minister, has said Taiwan is approaching a stage where the A(H1N1) virus will spread quickly.
“If we fail to intensify prevention efforts, a major outbreak could hit in late September or October, the traditional flu peak season,” Chen said, adding that the government should speed up purchases of anti-viral drugs and vaccines.
Taiwan has so far confirmed six severe A(H1N1) cases, including one death.
Department of Health Minister Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) is scheduled to leave on a two-day trip to Hong Kong tomorrow to attend a forum on the prevention of A(H1N1) infection.
Centers of Disease Control Director Kuo Hsu-sung (郭旭崧) said yesterday the health department was planning to sponsor an international symposium on A(H1N1) when the flu situation stabilizes, and would invite experts from Hong Kong and the US to attend.
If the situation deteriorates, however, it might not be able to spare the time for such a meeting, he said.