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Armenia To Reopen Schools After Swine Flu Closures

Armenia football fans wear masks to protect against swine flu in Yerevan.
Armenia football fans wear masks to protect against swine flu in Yerevan.
YEREVAN -- Schools across Armenia will reopen on January 11 after a one-month stoppage that health officials say helped contain swine flu in the country, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Armenian government closed schools on December 7, citing an upsurge in "seasonal" infectious diseases such as influenza. The measure was attributed to the rapidly growing number of swine flu cases reported by the Health Ministry.

Ara Asoyan, Armenia's chief epidemiologist, told RFE/RL that schools could reopen because the swine flu epidemic is easing.

Health authorities have so far registered 111 cases of swine flu, which have resulted in at least three fatalities.

Asoyan admitted that the real number of swine flu cases is much higher, but he insisted that the spread of the virus has slowed in recent weeks.

He said Armenia "definitely had thousands of infected people in November and December. But whereas 25 to 30 people infected with flu were admitted into our hospitals each day then, now the number is between one and three."

Lilya Poghosian, a senior doctor at the national ambulance service, gave similar assurances. Poghosian told RFE/RL that the number of daily ambulance calls for people with serious respiratory problems -- which can be caused by swine flu -- has thus far been cut in half this month.