중앙데일리

More schools shut on flu fears in colder weather

Oct 24,2009
The number of kindergartens and schools in Seoul that have temporarily shut down over fears of the A(H1N1) virus has risen to 76 as of yesterday, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Education Office.

A high school in northern Seoul, after seeing 99 of its students fall sick, suspended classes, while another high school in eastern Seoul asked all of its first- and second-year students to stay home after 32 of its students contracted the disease.

Nine of the 76 schools shut down across the country have stopped providing classes and the remaining 67 let some of their students come to school, according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Health Ministry.

The accumulated number of students who caught the disease jumped from 3,845 on the first day of this month to 9,378 as of Thursday. The accumulated tally of schools with at least one of their students contracting the flu advanced from 754 to 1,089 in the same period.

“As the weather turns colder, the number of H1N1 flu patients has begun to increase,” said a spokesman at the disease control center. “I would say the spread of the flu is in its initial stage and the tally is likely to continue to rise until the end of November, when the state-provided vaccinations begin to take effect.”

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry warned yesterday that the “rapid antigen test,” a throat swab, widely used for a simplified and quick diagnosis, is “far from reliable.” “If anyone tests positive in the RAT, it simply means the person has caught influenza. But the test cannot distinguish between seasonal flu and A(H1N1) flu,” the ministry said in a statement. “Even if the test result comes up negative, there is only a 50 percent chance that it is correct.”

Since the test results take between 15 minutes and one hour and the test is relatively cheaper at 30,000 won ($25), the method has been widely adopted.

However, confidence in the test dropped after a seven-year-old child who died of the A(H1N1) flu on Oct. 16 twice tested negative on the RAT. This meant antiviral drugs were delayed, aggravating the child’s condition.

Instead of the RAT, the Health Ministry is recommending the RT-PCR test, which is more accurate. But it takes over six hours to get the results and costs between 18,000 won and 49,000 won, depending on one’s insurance coverage.



By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장