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EDB repeats appeal to schools to step up preventive measures against human swine flu

     The Education Bureau (EDB) issued another letter to all schools today (April 30) calling on them to stay vigilant against human swine flu with the World Health Organisation raising its flu pandemic alert from phase four to phase five.

     Permanent Secretary for Education, Mr Raymond Wong, urged schools to thoroughly clean and disinfect school premises as early as possible.  He said, "We also ask schools to remind parents to pay special attention to their children's health conditions if they spend their holidays abroad.

     "Should they fall sick after returning to Hong Kong, don't attend school and seek a medical consultation immediately."

     He added, "We are in the course of collating information about human swine flu in hand, and with reference to past experiences in handling communicable diseases, we aim at compiling a comprehensive handbook as soon as possible on prevention of human swine flu, including handling of confirmed cases and class suspension arrangements.  The handbook will be uploaded onto our website and schools will be informed separately."

     Today's letter has been uploaded onto the EDB's homepage ( under the "What's New" column.  The key points are as follows:

* Schools should put in place crisis management measures, and a mechanism to inform parents during an emergency.

* Schools should follow the existing reporting mechanism to report the case(s) to the Central Notification Office of the Department of Health (DH) if an increase in respiratory illnesses or absenteeism among staff or students is noticed.

* Schools can contact the bureau's Regional Education Offices/Joint Office for Pre-primary Services if they encounter difficulties in procuring protective gear and supplies.  The bureau will provide appropriate assistance as necessary.

* The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the DH may consider advising closure of an individual school if any student or staff of a school is confirmed to be suffering from human swine flu.  The CHP will closely monitor developments to decide on whether a territory-wide class suspension is warranted.

     Mr Wong said, "Our colleagues in the Regional Education Offices have contacted individual schools today to learn more about their precautionary measures.  We will continue to maintain close contact with the DH and will provide schools with updated information and guidelines on the latest developments."

Ends/Thursday, April 30, 2009
Issued at HKT 20:53


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