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4 June 2009

WA extends voluntary school exclusion policy

WA Health has extended its voluntary quarantine policy for children who have travelled to areas affected by human swine influenza.

From tomorrow, primary and secondary school children who return from areas of high prevalence, including Victoria, will be asked to remain in home quarantine for seven days.

Western Australia is the fourth Australian state to extend the policy based on recommendations from the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer.

WA State Health Coordinator Dr Andy Robertson said this was a sensible precaution given the high prevalence of the virus overseas and within parts of Australia.

Other areas of high prevalence currently include Mexico, Canada, the United States, Panama and Japan but may change as the disease progresses.

Dr Robertson said the measures were aimed at stopping the spread of human swine flu to those in the community who were most vulnerable, including those with chronic illnesses.

“We appreciate that this may inconvenience many families, but it is very important that parents try to comply with the advice to help protect the community and prevent school closures,” he said.

Dr Robertson said that children of parents who had returned from these areas did not need to be excluded from school unless the parent was displaying flu-like symptoms.

“While school children returning from high prevalence areas are being asked to stay at home for seven days even if they are well, this policy does not extend to adults because the virus appears to be most easily spread among school age children,” he said.

The Department of Education and Training has today advised school principals of the changes to the policy and schools will send letters home to parents tomorrow.

For more information about the voluntary school exclusion policy visit the Department of Education and Training website

For more information on swine flu visit the Department of Health website or call the national swine flu hotline 180 2007.

If you think you have swine flu telephone your doctor or phone healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333

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