Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hong Kong schools close early amid flu fears

"Hong Kong officials gave kindergarten and primary school kids an early break for the Easter holiday in the midst of a widespread flu outbreak. Health Secretary York Chow made the decision late Wednesday to call off classes for two weeks, through March 28.

'All primary schools, special schools and kindergartens and child care centers will be closed in the hope of slowing down the spreading of flu and provide a chance for schools to clean up and make a better environment,' Chow said.

The government has ordered an investigation as three children have died in the last week of the outbreak. One of them was seven-year-old Law Ho-Ming, who was admitted over the weekend with flu-like symptoms. He died on Tuesday. Officials say five of his classmates are sick and hospitalized, while 30 others are displaying similar flu-like symptoms. By imposing the two-week break from school, health authorities are hoping to slow the spread of influenza.

'The decision was made due to a rising trend of flu infections within the community,' Chow said. 'We estimate this peak season of influenza will continue for a few weeks.'

Hong Kong is putting into action a plan devised after a deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) five years ago. The flu-like illness killed 299 people between February and May of 2003, according to the World Health Organization.

Chow said the current outbreak doesn't appear to be anything more than a normal flu virus. Still, parents, teachers and children are taking extra precautions to keep the virus from spreading and many can be seen wearing surgical masks for protection. Health officials hope that by keeping hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong school kids apart for a couple weeks they can break the infection cycle."

Full Story here:

No comments: