9 More City Schools to Close Over Swine Flu Fears

Virus has now shut down 50 schools and caused one death

More than 50 people are hospitalized with confirmed cases of swine flu in New York City, as health officials close nine more schools across three boroughs because of flu fears.

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein today said the nine schools are in six buildings -- including four in Queens, one in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn.

The schools will be closed for at least five days beginning Friday.  They are: PS 499 and P993 in Flushing, PS 111 and PS 718 in Eastchester, PS 143 in Corona, PS 203 in Bayside, MS 113 and P 372 in Fort Greene and PS 73 in Maspeth.

The closures bring the total of closed schools in the area to 50 and counting across four boroughs, New Jersey and Long Island.

There have been 201 confirmed cases of the virus in New York City, most have been mild. A health department spokeswoman said today that 56 people re hospitalized with confirmed cases of swine flu around New York City.

There has been only one confirmed death linked to swine flu -- that of 55-year-old Mitchell Wiener, an assistant principal at I.S. 238 in Hollis, Queens. Wiener died on Sunday; his funeral was held yesterday in Flushing.

Meanwhile, new test results show what scientists have suspected -- that people in their 60's and older have greater immunity to the new swine flu virus.

The analysis was released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. But officials there say it's not clear how safe older people are from the new infection. Their advice is that older folks should take the same precautions as their children and grandchildren.

The spreading flu isn't only affecting schools; emergency rooms are being overrun as well despite no indication from health officials that the outbreak is any more severe than it was weeks ago.

City health officials continue to assure the public that the spread of the virus is not escalating faster than anticipated.

"The best thing we can do to fight anxiety is with the facts," said Mayor Bloomberg Wednesday. "That's what we've been doing and we will continue to do."

The virus is also spreading at the Rikers Island jail, where there are five confirmed swine flu cases and five more probable cases. Seven housing units containing 280 inmates have been put under quarantine, according to The Post.

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