Swine flu closes 183 schools

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Swine flu closes 183 schools

Writer: BangkokPost.com

Published: 28/07/2009 at 03:59 PM

A total of 371 students have been reported infected with the H1N1 flu virus nationwide, the Education Ministry reported Tuesday.

Education Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said 183 schools in the country were closed at the moment to prevent the spread of the virus.

However no decision had been made to close all schools in Ratchaburi, as suggested, to help curtail the rapid spread of the virus in the province, which reported the world's first known case of a foetus being infected with the flu by its mother.

Each school would continue to exercise its own judgement, he said.

However, if the Public Health Ministry suggests that all schools there be closed temporarily, then they should follow the advice, he said.

Meanwhile, an official from the World Health Organisation has warned antiviral tablets should not be distributed to clinics across the country just yet.

"Doctors and nurses at these clinics need to be trained and know whether patients with flu-like symptoms have been infected with influenza type A (H1N1) before prescribing the antiviral oseltamivir directly to them," WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training on Viral Zoonoses director Thiravat Hemachudha said.

Oseltamivir should only be given at hospitals for now, because prescribing it to unconfirmed cases may lead to drug resistance, he said.

He said the fatal cases may have received medication when it was too late, or maybe they only showed symptoms in the later stages.

"In most cases, if the patients' symptoms are clear no doctors would delay give them the medication," he said.

Dr Thiravat said wearing face masks and using alcohol-based hand gels may not be an effective preventative if people do not also avoid crowded places.

He also urged people with flu-like symptoms to see a doctor immediately.

The cabinet has approved an extra budget of 450 million baht for the Public Health Ministry to import antiviral drugs and to fight the A(H1N1) outbreak.

A portion of the budget will be granted to different agencies under the Public Health Ministry, deputy government spokesperson Phumin Leethiraprasert said.

The money will also be used to buy 20,000 tablets of zanamivir for patients resistant to oseltamivir, Dr Phumin said.

Further advertising and public relations campaigns will be implemented to educate people about the swine flu outbreak, he said.

He said 1.89 billion baht will be used to buy 190 respirators for use by infected patients with lung complications.

The deputy government spokesman expected the additional budget would be spent by September.


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