As flu cases rise, calls for schools to shut

As it emerged that the number of people testing positive for swine flu had shot up this week, a national committee set up to coordinate the response to the spread of the H1N1 virus yesterday proposed that schools with more than a handful of suspect cases close temporarily. Just a few days after health authorities had ruled out the closure of all schools before the scheduled Christmas vacation, the committee of experts recommended that schools at which four or more pupils display swine flu symptoms temporarily stop operating. In prefectures where more than a third of schools are forced to close because of swine flu, the remaining schools should also stop operating, the committee said. Yesterday a total of 67 schools, 10 kindergartens and four creches in Attica were either closed or had several classes suspended. The proposals by the committee – which had not prompted a reaction from the government by late yesterday – came as experts revealed that the number of people who have tested positive for swine flu has tripled over the past week, reaching 975 cases as compared to 322 cases the week before. So far, some 3,000 people have tested positive for the H1N1 virus in Greece though most of these have fully recovered after taking antiviral drugs. Meanwhile, a national program for the inoculation of the population against swine flu is well under way. More than 6,200 people had received their jabs by yesterday in the first phase of vaccination that has focused on people working in the health sector. The second phase of vaccination – starting on Monday November 23 – is to focus on people in high-risk groups such as the elderly and those with chronic health problems.

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