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March 17, 2014

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Jilin kindergarten forced to close in latest antiviral drugs scandal

A PRIVATELY owned kindergarten in northeast China’s Jilin Province has been closed after staff there were found to have given students antiviral drugs.

An initial investigation confirmed that youngsters at the Fanglin Kindergarten in Jilin’s high-tech zone had been given the prescription medicine moroxydine ABOB. Several members of staff are being interviewed by police in relation to the case.

The scandal emerged just days after senior officials at two kindergartens in Xi’an were detained for dispensing cold medicines to pupils.

Parents in Jilin were alerted to the situation at Fanglin after several of their children complained of nausea, night sweats and rashes. They later discovered that their children had been fooled into taking the medicine by teachers who told them they were “smart pills.”

The drugs were dispensed in an attempt to stop students contracting flu and other contagious diseases so as to improve their attendance, an unnamed Jilin government official told Xinhua news agency.

In light of the discovery, police are now investigating three other kindergartens operated by Fanglin in Jilin’s high-tech zone and Fengman District. The four schools have a combined intake of 320 children, all of whom will be given a free health check, the official said.

As of yesterday, more than 170 children had been examined and none required hospital treatment, he said.

A parent surnamed Liu said her 3-year-old daughter told her a teacher had given her “smart beans,” which were white in color and tasted bitter.

The child has been at the kindergarten, which charges 1,200 yuan (US$195) a month, for almost a year. Teachers at the school are paid a bonus if their students have a good attendance record.

Another parent, surnamed Wang, said he was “astounded” when his 3-year-old daughter called the moroxydine ABOB tablets she saw at her grandmother’s house as “smart beans.”

She also told her father that any children who refused to take the pills were made to stand in a corner.

Both Liu and Cai said their children had had difficulties defecating and urinating, while Wang said his daughter had been suffering from nosebleeds, itchy skin and stomachaches.

About 100 parents gathered on Saturday at the gates of the hospital where their children were receiving checkups. Some of them held banners protesting against the kindergarten’s actions.

The Jilin Education Commission said all of the children removed from the Fanglin facilities will be found places elsewhere, adding that the company’s business license has been revoked.

Teachers at the Hongji Xinchang and Fengyun kindergartens in Xi’an are accused of having administrated antiviral drugs to children since 2008.


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