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November 12, 2009

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Local H1N1 monitoring net expanded to public venues

SHANGHAI has launched a major expansion of its network for monitoring the development of swine flu, health officials said yesterday.

Meanwhile, some international schools seem to be reluctant to pick up on the city's offer of free H1N1 shots, Shanghai Daily also learned yesterday.

On the monitoring front, places where people gather in large numbers have been added to the flu surveillance system's original 31 hospitals, officials from the Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday.

The system is designed to detect possible mutations and new virus strains and enhance supervision of outbreaks.

Any site with five or more related cases of acute fever and respiratory infection within a week must file a report immediately with the district-based center for disease control and prevention.

The 12 new public monitoring sites are the Shanghai No. 6 Department Store, Auchan supermarket on Changyang Road, Tongji University, Shanghai Lixin University of Commerce, three primary schools, one middle school, two kindergartens, Songjiang Social Welfare Institution and an elderly care hospital in Baoshan District.

Nine big poultry farms have also been added, as health officials worry about a possible combination of swine flu and avian flu.

"These public venues have been incorporated into the flu monitoring network because these spots are where many people gather," said Song Guofan, an official at the Shanghai Health Bureau.

"Information from these places can help improve prevention and control of community outbreaks, which is our key task."

Song said there have been no community or school-based outbreaks of swine flu in the city so far, though more than 1,300 cases have been detected since the disease first surfaced here in May.

The city's main tactic to combat swine flu is to provide free vaccine for high-risk groups such as schoolchildren, teachers and public service workers.

The city's international schools have been rolled into the program, but so far the response has been tepid.

Only 11 of the 230 students at the Western International School of Shanghai, for instance, have agreed to swine flu shots so far.

The school told students about the free shots three weeks ago and plans to conclude applications today.

"People may have safety concerns toward the very new vaccination," said the school's doctor, Jin Lily.

The citywide injection campaign kicked off at 2,900-plus schools on Tuesday and is expected to conclude early next month. More than 40,000 students, teachers and administrators at more than 80 schools are receiving the shots every day.


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