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July 27, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Aporkalypse Now

Bit of a cold going around Vic Halls

Recent reports suggesting swine flu was spreading through student hostels were swiftly rebutted by Victoria University, who stressed the situation was being carefully managed.

As of 16 July there have only been seven confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza in Victoria’s halls of residence.

The university has over 2700 students in nine halls of residence, and since 1 June until 20 July, Victoria has recorded 40 suspected cases of H1N1 virus.

Of those 40 students, 16 students have tested positive for swine flu, three have tested negative and we have had 21 suspected cases.

Victoria’s Director of Student Services Ruth Moorehouse said that because testing was only being conducted in certain cases, the university could not confirm the numbers of students with the H1N1 virus.

“The university is working closely with staff from Regional Public Health to ensure we are taking all the necessary precautions,” Moorehouse said.

The university and its halls of residence have had a pandemic plan in place to ensure all suspected cases are carefully managed to avoid the virus’ spread.

In a number of halls this plan has included isolating students with flu-like symptoms and providing anti-bacterial hand gel.

One hall of residence, Weir House, isolated a small number of residents, providing them with face masks, isolated bathrooms and meals served to their rooms. One resident described the experience as “like a holiday, except you’re really tired”, but others were less impressed with the service provided by the hall staff.

Latest protocol advises students and staff to only isolate themselves if they are feeling ill, not simply if they have been in contact with someone with swine flu.

Victoria has established Pandemic Management Committee, which is constantly monitoring the situation and responding accordingly.

Practical steps to avoiding spread of the virus include basic hand hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes. Regularly updated information can be accessed via a link on the Victoria University homepage.

Most of these cases remain unconfirmed however, and few were provided with Tamiflu. The spread of the virus had also appeared to have died down since the initial cases.

New Zealand has over 1000 recorded cases of the H1N1 virus. There have been 94,512 reported cases of swine flu worldwide, with over 420 deaths.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health say that there over 47,000 cases of seasonal flu in New Zealand in 2008.

In the US, an estimated 25–50 million cases of seasonal flu are currently reported each year, leading to 150,000 hospitalisations and 30,000–40,000 deaths yearly.

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