School classes close due to flu

Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros yesterday announced the closure of four classes at two secondary schools in Haidari and Melissia, in the city’s western and northern outskirts respectively, after 22 pupils manifested symptoms of swine flu, including respiratory problems and high fever. According to the Health Ministry’s special committee set up to coordinate the state’s response to the threat posed by the H1N1 virus, seven of the 22 pupils have been confirmed as having contracted swine flu. The decision by Sgouros was taken following a consultation with senior officials at the Health and Education ministries and was immediately followed by a visit to the two schools in question by representatives from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) who briefed teachers and pupils on health and safety measures to combat the spread of swine flu. Education Minister Aris Spilio-topoulos announced the closure for five days of the affected classes at the two schools – not the entire schools – and stressed that the outbreaks were not any cause for alarm. «We are prepared to handle whatever happens so there is no reason for parents to worry – everything will be tackled smoothly, pupils will not miss out on their lessons and they will be well prepared too,» Spiliotopoulos said. He added that his ministry and the Health Ministry would continue their daily briefings with schools across the country to monitor pupil absences and suspect cases. Last week a 16-year-old Thessaloniki schoolgirl was diagnosed with swine flu, the first pupil to contract the H1N1 virus.