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5 students on study tour diagnosed with swine flu


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POSTED: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blood tests have confirmed that five Hawaii students on a study tour in South Korea are carrying the swine flu virus, and seven more members of the group have been given blood tests, a Pacific and Asian Affairs Council spokeswoman said.

Ruth Limtiaco, a board member of PAAC, which sponsors the high school scholarship tour to visit Asia annually, said 21 students and four chaperones are still “;symptom free”; and being treated with Tamiflu, a medicine to minimize the effects of the H1NI virus.

The five students identified as carriers of the virus are quarantined at the National Hospital in Dongdaemun, she said.

The other group members confined to their hotel Monday “;underwent a nasal swab test”; and seven of them were taken later for blood tests to Seobook Hospital in Incheon, where they are quarantined until results are determined, Limtiaco said. The seven include five students and two chaperones.

The remaining 11 students and two chaperones have been released to proceed with their tour today, when they will visit the demilitarized zone, she said. One of the chaperones will tour with the students and the other will stay back to keep in touch with the quarantined groups.

Natasha Chappel, PAAC chaperone and program director, sent the following message to Limtiaco:

“;The students are all feeling healthy and are anxious to begin our tour. They are being extremely patient, cooperative and understanding. They are making the best of the situation and we are incredibly appreciative of their positive attitudes throughout.”;

Another chaperone, Doua Kue-Morris, said: “;We are ensuring that all of the students are comfortable and are doing our best to accommodate their needs.”;

Limtiaco said, “;One of the students' Korean grandmother—whom she had never met—came by the hospital to drop off a variety of Korean snacks, which they are enjoying.

“;Although the grandmother was unable to have direct contact with her granddaughter, they were able to see each other through a window; and PAAC officials said they will make sure a personal visit is arranged as soon as the students are released,”; Limtiaco said.

“;All students were required to have physical clearance from a physician prior to attending the trip. Students were notified of their acceptance for the trip on April 9 and were required to schedule an appointment with a physician, with certification to be turned in by June 12,”; Limtiaco added.

The group, which includes two members of the Searider Productions video team from Waianae High School, is scheduled to return July 5. Their tour was to include stops in Seoul, Gyeongju, Busan and Geoje.