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School closures not part of A/H1N1 battle plans in Canadian B.C. province

Written By vibykhmer on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | 11:15 AM

VANCOUVER, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- The provincial government of British Columbia in western Canada is preparing for a possible resurgence of the A/H1N1 flu virus when classes resume in September, but widespread school closures are not recommended, officials said Monday.

"We don't expect that individual school closures, community-wide closures or province wide closures will be useful in controlling the spread and impact of the H1N1 flu virus," said provincial chief medical officer Perry Kendall in a news conference.

"There would be a limited benefit for a lot of social disruption," he said. "Plus we can manage infection controls somewhat better in schools than we can in non-school settings."

Kendall added that closures early last spring were initiated " out of an abundance of caution" due to insufficient information on the new flu virus at that time.

"It has since become apparent that the disease caused by this virus is generally mild and does not warrant such severe measures," said Kendall.

The pandemic plans being put in place will include new information and materials for parents, students and schools, according to Ida Chong, the B.C. minister of healthy living and sport.

To complement the pandemic plans, new guidelines for when and if to shut schools have been developed after consulting with the federal government and public health partners, said B.C. education minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

Health officials say normal flu prevention measures are still the best way to prevent the spread of the A/H1N1 virus until a vaccine becomes available sometime in November.

Kendall said the back-to-school message is all about flu prevention, such as frequent hand washing, extra wiping of desks and doorknobs and ensuring students with flu symptoms stay at home.

So far, four people have died from the A/H1N1 flu in B.C. since March, but all the victims had underlying health issues.

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