I have to admit I haven't been taking this swine flu thing very seriously. Sure there have been almost 40 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu in Samoa, but that didn't seem like a big deal to me. However, since most of these cases have all been in schools, the government has been taking it very seriously. Yesterday the Ministry of Health issued a public health request closing all schools in the country starting Monday for one week (or until further notice). We just got back from the conference break and only had four days of classes (I only had three days with my Year 13s due to the Year 12 CAT on Friday), but it looks like we are getting another break.
Hmm...this means all the Peace Corps teachers in country will have an unplanned week off at the same time. I wonder how this will turn out. Seeing as how she has been handing out face masks, I imagine our medical officer would prefer we honor the spirit of this school cancellation and not gather together in large groups, possibly spreading the infection.
Overall I am still having a hard time taking the whole swine flu thing too seriously. Maybe it is because we don't have a TV and I don't get the newspaper regularly, but it isn't something that has been showing up on my radar. Recently the Red Cross started hosting flu clinics behind the tourism building (welcome tourists! we have swine flu!) and giving masks. I started to see a sprinkling of people around town wearing masks (taxi drivers at Aggie Greys, the attendant at a gas station). It all seemed rather surreal.
I checked the Samoa Observer's web site for news on the school closings and all I could find was this vague reactionary story from the Catholic schools. I checked the Ministry of Health's web site and they weren't any help either. I couldn't find anything on the Ministry of Education's web site either. Maybe my problem is I am searching in English.
Radio New Zealand had the most information I could find. There was an article in the New Zealand Herald talking about a doctor who breached confidentiality to tell the world that the Prime Minister of Samoa was tested for swine flu, but no one is saying what the results of the test were. I can say that I saw the Prime Minister on Tuesday and he looked fine to me.
Anywho, here's to a week off school (oh, my students are so far behind. so very far behind).