Hawaii schools prepared for swine flu, as two new suspected cases emerge

Chelesa Adams
Chelesa Adams
Sister Joan of Arc Souza
Sister Joan of Arc Souza
Dr. Chiyome Fukino
Dr. Chiyome Fukino
Jadie Karratti-Abordo
Jadie Karratti-Abordo

By Leland Kim - bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - The number of swine flu cases in Hawaii, may soon jump to five. Two new suspected cases are on Oahu. The cases are pending confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Swine flu is now in 41 states. Hawaii has three confirmed cases. Illinois has the most, going from 82 cases yesterday to 122. New York follows with 97, and California stands at 67.

A day after Hawaii confirms its first cases of swine flu, local public and private schools say, they're ready, and have a plan in place.

Hawaii's public and private schools have a contingency plan in place for emergencies. Now swine flu has forced school officials to revise it, and modify it to address this new virus.

Jadie Karratti-Abordo and Chelsea Adams are best friends at St. Francis School in Manoa. Tuesday's three confirmed, and possibly two more cases of swine flu or the H1N1 virus Wednesday, took them by surprise.

"My reaction was like, Oh my gosh. I hope it doesn't get around since we're so isolated on the islands," said Karratti-Abordo, a junior at the school.

"I was nervous because I didn't want it to turn into a worldwide epidemic and I started thinking about my future," added Adams, also a junior.

St. Francis was one of the first schools in the state to put together a comprehensive contingency plan on how to deal with swine flu.

"Now the plan would be adjusted so that anybody sick, in fact we've been doing that, anyone with flu like symptoms, and asking parents to pick them up and take them to their doctors and make sure they're ok and well enough to come back to school," said Sister Joan of Arc Souza, principal at St. Francis School.

That's the same advice the department of health is giving to Hawaii's public schools.

"That means if you are sick, stay home," said Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the director of the state department of health. "If your child is sick, keep your child at home. If you are coughing or sneezing, cover your cough or sneeze."

And that message of staying healthy is sinking in.

One positive aspect is that students are taking personal hygiene a lot more seriously. School custodians say they have to refill the soap dispenser a lot more frequently these days.

"I usually don't really, I'm not really hygienic I guess, but now I have my own personal hand sanitizer and I hand sanitize like every ten minutes or something," said Karratti-Abordo.

As health officials closely monitor the situation, Hawaii students can focus on academics knowing their schools are prepared.

"I'm really happy to know we got a plan," said Adams. "I was really nervous about the plan yesterday knowing what the CDC said about the issue. I'm confident we'll be okay and just continue to wash our hands and get rest and I think we'll be fine. I hope we'll be fine."

And the CDC says just because the virus has not been as potent as expected, doesn't mean the worst is over. This is a brand new virus, so, we could see a lull during the summer months and see a resurgence come flu season in the fall.