At least five second-graders from the same class at an elementary school in Kiryat Ono have been confirmed as having been infected with swine flu. The students are believed to have been exposed to H1N1 from a girl in a different class in their grade, who in turn was exposed to the flu by a relative who recently returned form the United States.
Worried parents petitioned on Saturday for the school to remain closed on Sunday, but the principle announced classes would resume as usual.
On Friday ten students from the second grade class in question at Rimonim School in Kiryat Ono were absent because they felt unwell. Another two students left during the school day after coming down with fevers and flu-like symptoms.
The father of one of the second-graders spoke with Ynet. "On Friday we took him to Shiva Hospital, we saw a lot of other kids from his class there with their parents, a real reunion. They were all tested."
The results came in Saturday afternoon, and according to the parents at least five cases of H1N1 were confirmed. Outraged at the news that classes were to take place as usual on Sunday, they demanded that the school take action.
Principle Meira Likorman however, sent a letter to the concerned parents in which she defended the decision to open the school on Sunday, saying that she was operating in accordance with Health Ministry regulations.
But the parents of one boy who was confirmed as having swine flu said the principle was repeating her earlier mistakes. "Nothing will happen if the school is closed for two or three days, so the virus can pass," the boy's father said. "Don't be stubborn about sticking to routine. Two weeks ago one boy got sick and then it started spreading through the school. My son's case could have been prevented. Now it's an epidemic."
A spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, Einav Shimron-Greenboim, said in response: "Right now there are two confirmed cases and another eight suspected cases. It's not compulsory to close a school, whether we're talking about a single case or several, because this is a minor illness."
Thus far a total of 271 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Israel. Thirty-nine new cases were diagnosed on Friday, and 13 new ones were diagnosed on Saturday. According to the World Health Organization the total of H1N1 cases globally is now at 44,287. Of these there have been 180 deaths.