x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Flu closes Sharjah private school, but no cases of H1N1 reported

A private school will remain closed for more than two weeks after students fell ill with the flu, but no one had tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

SHARJAH // A private school will remain closed for more than two weeks after students fell ill with the flu, although the school's principal said no one had tested positive for the H1N1 virus. The New Filipino Private School was shut on Wednesday as a precaution by the Minister of Education, Humaid al Qattami, said Sharjah Education Zone officials. About 200 of the school's 900 students were suffering from common colds, fever, cough and flu, according to the principal, Luzviminda Corpuz.

Two students tested positive for influenza but not for the H1N1 virus, she said, and all the students have recovered. "Our nurse monitored the students. On a given day, we would have at least 10 students complaining of cough, fever, cold and diarrhoea," she said. "But this was largely due to a change in temperature. This happens every year at the start of the school term." The school will reopen on September 23, Ms Corpuz said, in line with government schools.

The school reported the illnesses as mandated by the Ministry of Health, she said. Students who were unwell were asked not to attend classes for seven days. A Grade Seven male student, aged 12 or 13, was admitted at the Dubai Hospital on August 22, she said. He tested negative for H1N1 virus and the school submitted a copy of the medical certificate to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.

"What may have caused all the confusion was the cause of admission, which was URTI [urinary tract infection] and suspected H1N1," she said. "But the final diagnosis was URTI and negative for H1N1. "There is no need for parents to panic. We would like to prevent the spread of ordinary flu, cough and cold among our students." Before the start of the term, the school informed parents that students should undergo a 10-day self-quarantine after arriving from the Philippines or elsewhere abroad.

An Education Zone official said the Ministry of Health would send up to 80,000 copies of a guide on measures to combat the spread of swine flu to all education zones on Sunday. They hope these will help to raise awareness among parents and school staff on how to deal with the pandemic. Ibrahim Barakat, head of Shoala secondary school, said the closure of a school should not alarm parents, as this was one of the measures undertaken to halt the spread of H1N1.

He said he had attended the Ministry of Health training programmes on the fight against swine flu and was confident that measures taken were helpful. He also urged fellow headmasters to report any case of illness to the ministry. ykakande@thenational.ae rruiz@thenational.ae