The Armenian government on Thursday postponed the resumption of classes in the country’s public schools by one more week, until January 25, due to a continuing influenza epidemic that has killed 11 people.
All of the victims have died from the H1N1 strain of swine flu. At least 90 Armenians have been infected with the disease in the past several weeks.
Hundreds of others have been hospitalized and diagnosed with less dangerous seasonal flu and pneumonia. According to the Ministry of Health, 945 people received treatment for acute respiratory viruses in hospitals across Armenia as of Thursday morning. More than 80 percent of them were children.
Health Minister Armen Muradian pointed to this fact when he asked the government to again extend the New Year and Christmas holidays in the schools as well as kindergartens. The government accepted the recommendation, with Education Minister Armen Ashotian issuing a corresponding order immediately after a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan.
“Classes will resume on January 25,” Ashotian wrote on his Facebook page.
The school holidays were originally due end on January 10. The government extended them by one week on January 8.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Muradian said the weeklong extension has already helped health authorities to contain the epidemic. He said more time is needed for their “preventive measures” to have a stronger impact.
Muradian also insisted that none of the swine flu deaths was caused by inadequate treatment of hospitalized patients. “I believe that the healthcare system has worked with a great deal of dedication and professionalism,” he said.