Russia hard hit by this year's flu1st February 2011
People in Moscow are experiencing the worst flu epidemic since 1998, and central Russia is faring even worse.
Health authorities in Moscow have recorded 93 cases of H1N1 swine flu, with no deaths there so far.
However, in the north-western region of Murmansk, swine flu has killed a two-year-old girl.
An 61-year old tourist from Australia, who came to Russia to get married, also died after becoming infected with swine flu several weeks ago.
Russian health authorities are certain that the man was contaminated while on an aeroplane by someone who had been infected in Hong Kong.
Swine flu also killed a Russian boy in the northern Kirovsk region.
Liudmilla Stepina, a local doctor, said that the child had never been inoculated against H1N1 swine flu.
Russia's chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko said health authorities were telling children not to play together, and to avoid gathering in large groups.
In order to stem the spread of the virus, about 1,500 schools have also been closed for approximately one week, putting 500,000 children back at home.
But closing schools was only partly a preventive measure.
An official with Moscow's health control service said that some classes were already missing half their students by the time schools were told to close.
Some classes were nearly empty, due to the number of children who suddenly became sick.
None Moscow school director said that a lot of his students were already sick, and that teaching three or four kids and then having everyone else catch up did not make sense.
Although the Russian health authorities do not plan to close kindergartens or schools for older students, parents are encouraged to keep their children quarantined.
Onishchenko said that schools should try to implement some sort of distance learning that could act as a substitute for being at school.
People are also complaining that Moscow lacks doctors, and that the city is not well-defended against flu outbreaks.
According to official figures, about 52,000 children in Moscow are currently fighting respiratory illnesses.
A further 30,000 adults are also fighting seasonal flu, swine flu, and other flu-like illnesses that affect the respiratory tract.
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Title: Russia hard hit by this year's flu
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 17416
Date Added: 1st Feb 2011