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August 4, 2009

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Swine flu fear hits summer camps

THE Chinese Ministry of Education is warning local education authorities to keep student group activities to a bare minimum this summer for fear of a sudden outbreak of swine flu after some students, both domestic and overseas, had been infected during summer vacation gatherings.

A circular issued by the Ministry of Education on Sunday urged further efforts in the control and prevention of H1N1 virus to protect the health and safety of students around the country.

The ministry demanded local education authorities only give permission to really important gatherings.

According to the circular, local education authorities should improve instruction and management for activities that need to be held.

Organizations running such activities, such as summer camps and military training activities for teenagers, should set up plans for emergency treatment in advance and hire medical staff for check-ups and dealing with infections.

Activities should be terminated if any cases are reported, the circular said.

The Ministry of Health also recently urged authorities to reduce students' activities in areas where comparably high number of cases have been reported.

In highly affected areas, all the summer vacation activities should be stopped if possible, it said.

Liang Wannian, vice director of emergency response office of the health ministry, said China's initial task for the next phase of disease control is to prevent any grouped cases, especially outbreaks at schools and in neighborhood communities.

Thirty-six students at a special training camp in Beijing were confirmed to have been infected with the H1N1 flu late last month.

More than 80 primary school students from across China attended the camp on July 11-20.

About the same time, a group of 52 British schoolchildren and their teachers were quarantined in Beijing after four pupils were admitted to hospital with swine flu.

Taiwan health authorities yesterday announced that 106 out of 214 high school students attending a religion study camp in Kaosiung City have shown flu symptoms, with eight of them testing positive for the H1N1 virus.


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