H1N1 virus closes another city school, Viettel office infected

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Another school in Ho Chi Minh City was shut down Monday after a student was found with influenza A (H1N1), while telecom giant Viettel reported a case at its headquarters in Hanoi.

A student of the HCMC Construction Technical Vocational School found with high fever on Sunday is said to have had physical contact with an infected student from the Nguyen Khuyen Private High School, which was closed last Thursday after several students caught the flu.

Teachers and health authorities will quarantine and monitor more than 50 classmates of the latest case while the school is closed for at least seven days, officials said.

Dr. Phan Van Nghiem of the HCMC Health Department has ordered school authorities to sterilize the area every day of the week, especially its toilets.

Nghiem said students at the school rarely live together in dormitories or boarding houses and that makes the transmission between them less severe than in the two boarding high schools Nguyen Khuyen and Ngo Thi Nhiem.

As of Monday, Nguyen Khuyen High School had reported 13 students with H1N1 while the Ngo Thoi Nhiem School, which was the first in the city to close on July 19, on Sunday reported a total of 83 cases including 77 students and six teachers.

Binh Duong Province that neighbors the city Monday reported 13 more cases, including ten students of the two city schools coming home for summer vacation.

Health officials in Ca Mau Province in the Mekong Delta have also quarantined nine students coming home from the Ngo Thoi Nhiem High School and eight others from Nguyen Khuyen High School.

Meanwhile another neighboring province of HCMC, Dong Nai, said Monday 53 schools in the area have been closed to control the spread of the virus.

At the meeting with the HCMC Health Department Monday, the city government accepted to spend VND60 billion (US$3.5 million) on equipment and measures to fight the virus, also known as swine flu.

Viettel wearing face masks

At the Viettel Telecom building in Hanoi, all employees have been wearing face masks after one employee tested positive for the H1N1 virus on Saturday and was being quarantined in a local hospital, the newswire VnExpress said.

It is not known yet how the employee had caught the virus but Viettel office chief Phan Huu Vinh told the newswire the employee and two others had been sent to HCMC earlier this month.

The 17-floor building, located at No. 1 Giang Van Minh Street just 300 meters from the Health Ministry offices, is home to 500 employees of Viettel Telecom.

Nguyen Hong Ha, deputy head of the National Institute of Infectious and Tropical Diseases told the newswire VietnamNet that, "H1N1 will invade Hanoi in the coming time."

The comment was made after three people traveling by train from HCMC to Hanoi were found with the flu. The cause of infection was yet to be found.

The passengers had visited several places and met many people in Hanoi before they were quarantined over the weekend.

Ha said Hanoi doesn't have as many sickbeds as HCMC and the capital health agencies will face many difficulties if the flu there develops as fast and severely as it has in the southern hub.

Nguyen Huy Nga, head of the Preventive Health and Environment Department under the Health Ministry, said health authorities cannot control the flu properly as around half of people infected with the virus do not show any symptoms, VietNamNet newswire reported Monday.

The Ministry of Health on Monday declared 60 more H1N1 cases in total, raising the country's tally to 672, of whom 375 have recovered. There have been no deaths from the flu so far.

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