Schools to open under swine flu watch

Authorities said yesterday that schools would open as scheduled on September 11 despite fears of a swine flu pandemic but would remain under strict supervision by means of daily briefings with school staff. The Health and Education Ministries and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will be kept abreast of these briefings and will have the right to intervene and suspend the operation of any schools where suspect cases of infection with the H1N1 virus appear, it was revealed. «According to international guidelines, schools are reservoirs for the propagation of the virus,» a Health Ministry statement said yesterday. The statement added that the chief aim of authorities was «to delay as much as possible the development of a pandemic… as we are not yet aware when the World Health Organization will authorize the administering of vaccines.» Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said yesterday that the first batch of vaccines is due to arrive in Greece on September 15. Meanwhile authorities said that 208 new cases of swine flu had been confirmed, bringing the total in Greece to 1,839. Earlier this week a 23-year-old man with serious heart problems died from complications related to swine flu. The man had been moved to the intensive-care unit of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center last Friday after being diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. A statement issued by the ministry at the time said the man’s death «could not technically qualify as a swine flu fatality according to international scientific principles as the virus was contracted within the previous 48 hours.»