Posted July. 14, 2009 09:13,
Mass infections of the H1N1 virus is spreading fast through schools, with a new outbreak reported in elementary schools in Gyeonggi Province.
The Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry yesterday confirmed that three students at an elementary school in the eastern Seoul suburb of Bucheon had the virus. The three were quarantined at state-designated hospitals and their school began summer vacation a week earlier than scheduled to prevent a further spread.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the three students were presumed to have been infected in their community, as they had never gone abroad or came into contact with a confirmed patient.
In addition, two students at an Incheon elementary school were also infected with the virus, following another elementary student in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. The Incheon school also started summer vacation a week earlier as a precautionary measure.
Jeon Byeong-yul, head of communicable disease surveillance and response at the disease watchdog, said, Once one gets infected in schools, there is a high chance of mass infection. Since nearly 500 people have been infected with the new flu, there could be many other cases of infection yet to be confirmed.
Following these infections, the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education canceled overseas exchange programs for summer vacation. An overseas training program for 282 teachers of English in the province was also called off.
Korea has confirmed 18 more cases of the new flu, including two Indonesian children who participated in an international choir festival, bringing the combined number of infections here to 482, health authorities said.