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November 7, 2009

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Swine flu: city's schools safe

THE Shanghai Health Bureau acted quickly yesterday to avert panic with the official line: There is no outbreak of swine flu in city schools.

Its initiative was sparked after East China University of Science and Technology announced some students were not allowed to participate in half-semester examinations due to swine flu or suspicion of the virus.

The university issued a notice on its Website on Thursday, saying these students in its Fengxian District branch were being segregated to prevent cross-infection.

Their exam marks would be made in accordance with their day-to-day academic performances, it said.

The school canceled the announcement yesterday, saying the students were suffering from seasonal cold or flu.

However, it said segregation was still effective, as seasonal flu was contagious.

Song Guofan, an official at the bureau, said the health authorities did not receive a report on any epidemic of swine flu at the university and the prevalence of swine flu in the city remained stable.

"In Shanghai, there have been about 1,300 cases of swine flu since the first was detected in May," Song said.

"Both the education commission and the bureau have issued joint announcements on emergency measures for any outbreak of swine flu in local schools. So far there has been no such event."

Students and teachers of city primary and middle schools are key targets for free swine flu vaccinations, which will be widely carried out on Tuesday.

Li Dan, a doctor at East China University of Science and Technology, said there were 42 students undergoing separation in designated dormitories due to fever or other flu-like syndromes.

"None of these students was confirmed as having swine flu," Li said.

"The measure is for disease control and prevention. Among the 42 students, only five still have temperatures over 38 degrees Celsius. All students are stable."

Li said the university had 10 swine flu cases since late September, but the cases were sporadic.

Cong Haiying, from the Shanghai Education Commission, said city universities had their own plans and emergency procedures for any swine flu outbreak.

Capsules on sale

Shanghai Jiao Tong University issued a notice on Monday seeking daily reports on students with fever or other flu-like symptoms and requiring sick pupils to stay at home or in a segregated dormitory.

The city has started to sell its first batch of a locally made antiviral drug, known as the Chinese version of pharmaceutical group Roche's Tamiflu, to fight swine flu.

Oseltamivir phosphate capsules are in more than 300 Shanghai pharmacies.

The use of drug will not have any side effects when combined with seasonal flu shots, but the drug will not replace the H1N1 vaccine, according to city experts.

The new drugs are made by the Shanghai Pharmaceutical (Group) Co Ltd.

A box of Tamiflu with 10 capsules costs 298 yuan (US$43.65), while the same quantity of the Chinese antiviral drug only costs 200 yuan.

City medical experts said a plentiful supply of the capsules was guaranteed.


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