• Kyodo News


Two senior high schools in Kobe that were hit hard by the H1N1 swine flu outbreak reopened Saturday after closing for two weeks to contain the highly contagious disease.

After scheduling a special school day Saturday to check students’ health, Kobe High School and Hyogo High School announced that classes would resume Monday, bringing all public high schools in Hyogo Prefecture back to normal.

Some private schools, however, continue to suspend classes.

Japan’s first domestic case of the new H1N1 strain of influenza A, locally called “shingata infuruenza” (new-type influenza), surfaced at Kobe High School earlier this month. Several students then caught it at nearby Hyogo High School as the virus spread throughout the prefecture, turning Hyogo into ground zero for the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Osaka, Hyogo and Chiba prefectures said Saturday that they have confirmed yet more cases of swine flu, raising total infections nationwide to 377.

Most schools in west Japan resumed classes on Monday after being closed for about a week. But Kobe High School, which had 17 cases, and Hyogo High School, which had 43, opted to stay closed.

“I felt frustrated as I could not practice but now club activities can resume,” a 17-year-old member of some basketball team said.

“I studied at home during the recess. I want to get back to my normal life,” said a female student, also 17.

The prefectural education board said that no new H1N1 cases have been found at either of the schools since May 21, and that all of the students who were infected have recovered, it said.

Some experts said the spread of the new flu may have been facilitated through sports events they held jointly on May 8.

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