Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Schools worry about manpower issue amid H1N1 spread

By Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 30 June 2009 2021 hrs

SINGAPORE: The first day of school on Monday saw an average of 32 students and four teachers from each school sent home as part of measures to break the chain of H1N1 transmission in the community.

If the situation worsens in the coming months, the Ministry of Education (MOE) may close classes and even schools. The risk of community spread has also caused some schools to be concerned about a manpower shortage.

Nan Hua Primary School gave leave of absence on Monday to over 40 staff and students who had returned from H1N1-affected countries within the past week.

Most are expected to return in the next two days and Nan Hua said disruption has been minimal so far. The school added that most of its staff and students had returned to Singapore before June 24.

Students who have to remain at home will continue their lessons through home-based learning packs prepared by the school. Affected teachers may also work from home.

However, Nan Hua's biggest worry is that an H1N1 cluster may still emerge in the school despite its precaution measures and said it is monitoring staff and students for signs of possible infection.

It is also worried about staffing issues, should affected teachers be required to take a long leave of absence.

Lee Hui Feng

Lee Hui Feng, principal, Nan Hua Primary School, said: "When we go into mitigation phase, closure of classes or levels will certainly be one of the possible steps that we will take because with a closure, it will help us look into the key concern of breaking the cluster within the school, as well as the concern about a shortage of manpower."

She said the school is also looking into ways to allow teachers to work from home, through tele-conferencing tools, for instance.

Nan Hua, like many other schools, relies on a pool of relief teachers to conduct lessons when its staff has to take leave from school.

But with many of its relief teachers being university students on vacation, the school may face a shortage of manpower when the new college term begins in a couple of months.

By then, Singapore may well see a sustained community spread of the virus and that is when the school may call upon retired teachers for help.

- CNA/so

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.
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H1N1 cases rise to 701 in Singapore

Posted: 30 June 2009 1951 hrs

Communicable Disease Centre at Tan Tock Seng hospital in Singapore
SINGAPORE: Singapore has confirmed 72 new H1N1 flu cases, bringing the tally to 701 so far.

The Health Ministry says most cases are mild and to date, 281 patients have fully recovered and the rest are recuperating.

Singaporeans should carry on with their usual activities whilst observing good personal hygiene at all times. If unwell, they should see a doctor, stay away from work, school or crowded places, and rest at home.

Investigations are on-going for the 72 new cases. Of the 64 cases investigated on Tuesday, there were 42 local cases and 22 imported ones.

Of the latest cases investigated, the largest number of new cases was linked to the Republic Polytechnic, bringing the total number of cases there to 77.

Over 1,900 second- and third-year students have signed an online petition calling on the polytechnic to suspend classes, not just for first-year students but for them as well.

The polytechnic said it understands the students' concerns and has also received feedback from them through internal channels although it has not received any petition formally.

The school added that it is monitoring the situation closely and is prepared to take additional measures if required to safeguard the well-being of staff and students.

Another three new H1N1 cases were found linked to an orientation camp at the National University of Singapore, bringing the number of cases in that cluster to seven.

Clementi Camp had two new cases raising the total there to 55, while there was one new case each from the Raffles Institution Boarding School, Butter Factory, Maju Camp and Pulau Tekong Camp clusters.

- CNA/ir

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Hawaii has 1st swine flu death, of ailing patient

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30:  A woman wearing...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

06/30/2009 | 01:55 PM

HONOLULUHawaii is reporting its first swine flu death.

The state Department of Health says an adult over 60 years old with an underlying medical condition died June 19 at Oahu's Tripler Army Medical Center after contracting the H1N1 virus.

Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said Monday the swine flu was not the patient's primary cause of death, but a secondary cause.

The department isn't releasing further details, including patient's gender or medical ailments, because of federal laws and concerns for the patient's privacy.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been 127 swine-flu related deaths in the US as of June 25. 

More than 27,000 people have contracted the disease across the US. - AP

From GMANews.tv; see the source article here.

FDA says E. coli found in Nestle sample

Chocolate chip cookie doughImage via Wikipedia

06/30/2009 | 01:25 PM

NEW YORK – The Food and Drug Administration said Monday a sample of raw cookie dough collected at a Nestle USA manufacturing plant last week has tested positive for E. coli.

Nestle voluntarily recalled all Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products made at the Danville, Va., factory earlier this month after the FDA told Nestle it suspected consumers may have been exposed to E. coli bacteria after eating the dough raw.

The FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control have been investigating whether the cookie dough was the source of the E. coli outbreak which has sickened 69 people in 29 states, according to the latest CDC data. E. coli is a potentially deadly germ that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure.

The FDA says the sample of Toll House refrigerated prepackaged dough was manufactured at the plant on Feb. 10.

In a statement, Nestle said the sample that tested positive came from a 16-ounce Toll House refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough bar. The product had a "best before June 10 2009" label.

"We are very concerned about those who have become ill ... and deeply regret that this has occurred," the company said in the statement.

The company also reiterated that consumers can return the recalled products to their local grocer for a full refund.

FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek says the FDA is working with the Glendale, Calif.-based unit of Switzerland-based Nestle SA to find the source of the contamination. Nestle said it will continue to work "closely and in full cooperation" with the investigation.

Besides the Toll House products, Nestle also makes a variety of refrigerated pastas and pasta sauces at the plant.

The company shut down production in the cookie dough section of the plant when it issued the recall. That section remains closed, but the company is still manufacturing the pasta and pasta sauces in a separate section of the plant. - AP

From GMANews.tv; see the source article here.

Double trouble

Seeing two of a kind may be an indication of more serious problems
Eveline Gan, eveline@mediacorp.com.sg
DoubleTrouble More than meets the eye: Seeing double may point to a neurological problem.

It started with a headache and pain around her left eye. A week later, Mdm K began seeing double images.

"I lay in bed the whole day. I couldn't even watch TV because I would see two of everything," said the 61-year-old homemaker.

She initially thought it was a side effect of her on-off headache and wanted to brush it off. Thankfully, her brother insisted on taking her to the hospital.

A scan revealed that the muscles in her left eye had swelled up. Any delay in treatment would have led to more complications.

Certain benign eye conditions such as astigmatism - caused by an irregularly-shaped cornea - can cause you to see double images. So can extreme fatigue or overindulging in alcohol.

But if you start having double vision out of the blue, or if it keeps recurring, then you have every reason to worry.

According to Dr Wang Jenn Chyuan, senior consultant ophthalmologist and medical director of Nobel Eye and Vision Centre at Mt Alvernia Hospital, any visual problem should be taken seriously as it may be caused by more serious medical conditions.

In fact, double vision, or diplopia in medical lingo, is "almost always" one of the symptoms of a host of neurological disorders, added Dr Nagaendran Kandiah, a consultant neurologist at National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore. They include brain tumours, stroke, and diseases affecting the eye muscle and nerves around the eyes.

Being able to see a single image with two eyes is a complex process that involves the brain, muscles and nerves.

Explaining how healthy eyes work, Dr Wang said: "When a person with normal vision looks at an object, the brain and nerves coordinate the alignment of both eyes. This is so that the two images sent to the brain are perfectly superimposed on each other and he sees only one image."

A neurological or muscle problem can cause the eyes to be misaligned, so each has a different focus. When this happens, explained Dr Nagaendran, the brain will misinterpret the images to be in two different locations, causing you to see double.


And as if the discomfort of seeing double images isn't bad enough, patients also often experience headaches with their double vision, as in Mdm K's case.

Dr Nagaendran said that the pain may suggest that there is an inflammation or aneurysm - a ballooning of the arteries - in the brain. Eye pain can also occur if the swollen arteries press on the nerves connected to the eye.


Sometimes, double vision which has been ignored for a long time may go away without any treatment. It may mean that your brain has learnt to "suppress" one of the images seen by one of the eyes, said Dr Wang.

"It's the body's way of preventing confusion when the mind perceives two different images."

But don't rejoice too soon.

Suppression of one of the images can result in lazy eye. And in the case of a more serious condition such as a brain tumour or aneurysm, ignoring the problem can lead to blindness or death, Dr Wang warned.

In most cases, treating the underlying medical problem will help resolve the double vision.

"As long as there is no irreversible damage to the nerve or brainstem, most symptoms often go away, either partially or completely, in six to 12 weeks," added Dr Nagaendran.

For Mdm K, the prompt anti-inflammatory treatment she got after being diagnosed helped her to regain normal vision.

From TODAY, Health – Tuesday, 30-Jun-2009
In collaboration with Health Promotion Board