Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Swine Flu Vacation

Here in Hong Kong, the kids swim in the pool or ocean every day. It really does feel like endless summer, especially this year. Ten days into the new term, the kids’ school closed for a week because of the flu. After learning the routines of the school day, the kids were off again. Luckily for us, none of us were sick so our down time was just that; time down at the pool.

Our school closed down, following inspections by Hong Kong’s Department of Health. Since spring, schools have been checking children’s temperatures as they enter the campus. Schools are required to report absences and flu-like symptoms to the Department of Health. The current rule is that if any school is experiencing absences of 10% of the student body or has 1% of the student body hospitalized, the school needs to shut down for seven days. While shutting the school might seem extreme to those of us from the states, Hong Kong’s strong stance on swine flu is understandable given its history with the SARS epidemic and its position as a transit point into southeast Asia and China.

In Hong Kong today there are approximately 20,000 cases of swine flu with 500 new cases reported daily. Other parents report that their children are often tested for either strain A or B of the flu but not always specifically for H1N1. When we were making medical visits for Royce’s fractured wrist, we passed through various swine flu triage points set up outside of clinics and hospitals. All that being said, in Hong Kong as is the case everywhere, many of the flu cases have mild symptoms.

So, the most immediate impact on us is no school! We, well actually only the children, have to have their temperature taken when entering the American Club, a recreational club, across the street. We all have our temperatures taken before we jump in the swimming pool at our apartment complex. Ramifications are felt even at church where we were told not to drink directly from the chalice during communion.

We are willing to comply but it all just seems so futile. Daily, we record the kids’ temperatures in a log book that goes back and forth from school. To make our compliance easier, Phil picked up new thermometers for us in the states, the quick reading ear thermometer kind. While the health benefits of this temperature taking might be negligible, other positives are appearing. Like most families, we are a little overscheduled this fall, with swimming, tennis and musical instruments but with flu-mandated shut downs, our schedules are manageable. The twins are also learning about “every day numbers” at school. They were both able to give many thermometer based examples and are particularly good at writing their numbers 96-99.


Post a Comment

<< Home