Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Romania bars all hospital visits over swine flu

(AFP)

BUCHAREST — Romania is forbidding people from visiting patients at all hospitals due to a surge in swine flu cases, a health ministry official said Monday.

The official, Dr. Adrian Streinu-Cercel, said 174 new cases of A(H1N1) were recorded in the past week alone, bringing the national total to 555. None of them was fatal.

Five schools were closed due to the virus, he said.

"Given the fast spread of the virus in the communities of children and youngsters, including in Bucharest and in three departments in the south and north-east, the ministry decided to close five schools, two in the capital," Streinu-Cercel told a news conference.

"Hospitals are also quarantined, visiting patients being forbidden," he said.

Romania will start swine flu vaccinations in December, targeting first health workers, employees of essential services and students from Bucharest and the northeast city of Iasi, where the two main flu outbreaks were identified.

The border police working at the frontier with Ukraine, a country particularly affected by the virus, are also to be vaccinated.

In order to prevent the spread of swine flu, local authorities also decided to distribute free masks and disinfectant to the schools in Bucharest.

On Sunday, health officials closed a hotel in the mountain resort of Sinaia, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Bucharest, after 40 tourists contracted the virus, most of them students taking part in an international congress.

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