Flu gives Chinese students the holiday blues

Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:23am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - The autumn weather is glorious, a week-long holiday is coming up, but fears of the H1N1 flu are keeping many Chinese students in their dorms these days.

Schools in Xi'an, a northwestern city that has seen heavy flu outbreaks, the port city of Tianjin and the northern province of Heilongjiang have shut temporarily to try and halt the spread of the virus, and the students are akin to prisoners.

The October 1 holiday is a week-long national vacation that normally sees Chinese streaming to scenic spots and historic sites, but this year, a lot of people are going nowhere.

The bars of the school gate separated Zhang Li, a senior at a university near Xi'an, from her parents when they visited last week, bringing quilts for the colder weather.

The students at her school have been confined to campus since September 11, after one student came down with H1N1.

"My parents came from quite a distance but they could only stand outside the school gate handing all the things they brought to me through the gate," Zhang said.

Zhang and her classmates may attend classes and sports events, but can only eat at campus cafeterias. Shuttles bring faculty and staff to the campus every day.

"I have much more spare time now for movies and soap operas on TV," Zhang said.

China's Health Minister Chen Zhu warned this month that the beginning of the school year and the cooler weather could help the H1N1 virus spread more rapidly in China, which has not yet had a fatal case.   Continued...