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December 10, 2011

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40 students feared to have scarlet fever

MORE than 40 pupils at an elementary school in a suburban area are suspected of having contracted scarlet fever, parents claimed yesterday.

At least 39 children in a Grade Two class at the Mingqiang Elementary School are feared to have the disease, they said.

One parent, who gave his name as "Eric," said the school gathered parents on Wednesday to inform them that an initial test indicated 39 out of 48 children had the disease.

Parents also said six pupils in a Grade Three class are suspected of having the disease.

Some parents claim the first case emerged a fortnight ago and accused the school - which has hundreds of pupils - of not acting quickly enough. They say it should have isolated sick children and canceled all classes to sterilize classrooms.

According to a 2005 directive by Shanghai's education department, a school where an unidentified contagious disease case is discovered should report to authorities and cancel classes involved.

"The school has put all the children at the risk of catching the disease," claimed Eric.

The Mingqiang Elementary School has only canceled lessons for the Grade Two class but other parents are taking their children to hospital for tests, said Eric, whose child tested negative.

A 45-year-old father, surnamed Ruan, told Shanghai Daily that six children - including his son - in a Grade Three class were also diagnosed to be suffering scarlet fever.

Eric claimed school outings had continued this week.

"I don't understand how the school could organize for a class to visit a city attraction as group activity on Monday, when it didn't know how many children may have this contagious disease," said Eric.

School staff declined to comment yesterday, saying top officials were at an emergency meeting.

Earlier, a teacher at the school, surnamed Wang, told China Network Television that parents' accusations were untrue as only one or two students were confirmed to have scarlet fever and had been isolated.

The city's health authority said it is normal to see an increase of scarlet fever at this time of year, but didn't have a figure.

An official, surnamed Liu, with Fudan University's Children's Hospital confirmed they have received children with scarlet fever over the past two weeks, but said their condition was not serious.

Liu did not give a figure.

Scarlet fever symptoms include a sore throat, fever and a rash, doctors say. It is treated with antibiotics.


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