Schools Close to Halt Spread of H1N1

The government announced a number of measures to cope with the H1N1 influenza outbreak. They authorized districts to extend the winter holidays at schools, and Buenos Aires province is expected to bring them forward for next week. Six provinces meanwhile suspended classes.

Cabinet Chief Sergio Massa, held a press conference Monday, June 29 at 9.30pm, after the two-hour meeting ended, said that the emergency was an “administrative measure” that allowed the executive branch to buy supplies with less controls. “We have to make sure purchases are properly made,” Massa said, ruling out the government would adopt that measure.

The Buenos Aires province Health Ministry meanwhile asked the governor to declare the health emergency in the district, the worst hit by the influenza outbreak.

The committee decided to authorize districts to extend the winter holiday period up to two weeks, in order to avoid the spread of influenza among students. The measure will be adopted in Buenos Aires province starting next Monday or Wednesday, Massa said.

The committee was expected to declare a national health emergency due to the virus, but no announcement was made.

Earlier yesterday educational institutions suspended classes in several provinces due to the H1N1 virus. In the provinces of Santa Fe, San Luis, Santiago del Estero, Entre Ríos and Corrientes local authorities yesterday decided to suspend classes in primary and secondary schools, after confirming cases of H1N1 influenza among students or as a preventive measure.

The dentistry faculty of the Buenos Aires University (UBA) reported a professor and a student died with influenza-like symptoms, and decided to suspend classes at that institution. So did the La Plata Medical School and another university in Santa Fe in order to prevent the flu from spreading. UBA authorities were to meet today to decide preventive measures. La Plata’s Medical School meanwhile decided to suspend classes.

Health authorities have confirmed 1,587 cases from the new strain of virus, also known as swine flu, which is spreading in several provinces. A total of 28 people have died so far due to the virus, making Argentina the South American country with the highest number of deaths.

The outbreak has lead to hospitals being overwhelmed as flu cases swamp emergency rooms, and some health centres even recognized they have collapsed due to the cases.

Argentine health minister quits as flu spreads

Argentina’s health minister resigned on Monday amid an outbreak of the deadly H1N1 flu strain that has killed 26 people in the country, the government’s cabinet chief said.