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Schools close as swine flu cases increase

In Western Australia about 200 students at an exclusive boys school have been told to stay home, as 10 new cases of swine flu were confirmed on Sunday, dramatically increasing the state’s previous number of confirmed cases from four.

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The WA Health Department says an 11-year-old boy from the exclusive Scotch College and a 23-year-old woman who had visited Melbourne tested positive on Saturday and were in home quarantine.

Communicable disease control acting director Paul Effler said of the 14 cases nine are children, all aged about 11, attending three Perth schools including six at Scotch College, two at Christ Church Grammar School and one at East Claremont primary school, all in

Perth’s affluent western suburbs.

Mr Effler said they are now working with schools to discuss the best course forward.

“We’re recommending partial closure, or in the case of a small school closure for a limited time,” he said.

Queensland cases

Meanwhile in Queensland, a school in far north Queensland has extended its closure following the latest confirmed swine flu cases on Sunday.

Education Queensland says Cairns State High School, which was due to reopen on Tuesday, will stay closed until Thursday, after confirmation that a second student has contracted the disease.

The student attended school last Wednesday – a day before it closed following confirmation of the first case.

Another eight cases of swine flu were confirmed in Queensland on Sunday, with 45 people now having been diagnosed as having the virus, but only around half that number remaining in isolation with the disease.

Victoria concerns

But in Victoria, which has the highest number of confirmed cases of swine flu with almost 900, the government last week said schools would no longer automatically close if there were confirmed cases across several classes, with students with flu-like illness spending three days in home quarantine.

Last week an interstate stoush broke out over NSW’s decision to impose a seven-day quarantine period on children returning from Melbourne following Wednesday’s State of Origin rugby league game.

Victoria had moved its flu alert level that day from contain to modified sustain, meaning resources would now be placed in high-risk areas rather than focused on closing schools and quarantining people.

NSW has recorded four more cases of swine flu, taking the state’s tally to 82.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Sunday there were still no confirmed cases of local transmission of human swine influenza within the state.

A 26-year-old woman was confirmed on Saturday as South Australia’s 12th case of swine flu, but thousands of South Australian football fans travelled to Melbourne at the weekend to watch the Adelaide Crows take on Essendon in the AFL.

More than 1,000 Australians have tested positive for swine flu. Eight people in Tasmania have now been confirmed as having the virus after two more positive results.

Public Health Physician Kelly Shaw said the new cases included a woman who had recently travelled to Victoria – the first confirmed case swine flu in the state’s north.

The Northern Territory has two confirmed cases while the ACT has seven.