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Donegal GP says schools must stay closed to stop flu epidemic

Letterkenny GP Jim McDaid has warned about the prospect of a flu epidemic as children return to school 
Seamus McKinney

A HIGH-profile Donegal doctor has called for schools to remain closed after the Christmas holidays to prevent a flu epidemic.

Former Fianna Fáil minister Jim McDaid said if action is not taken, the current flu outbreak could lead to a health crisis.

The Letterkenny GP was responding to higher than normal levels of a particularly severe strain of flu.

Health experts believe the unusually mild winter could have contributed to the problem.

Dr McDaid said children in particular run the risk of contracting the illness and warned that absenteeism in schools could increase dramatically.

“What we really do need is a week’s spell of cold, hard frost in order to change this. I am coming into work in the morning and it’s eight degrees in my car; that’s unheard of," he said.

“As long as we have this type of weather then children in particular are going to be the main sufferers as a result of this.

"That is why I am saying that after the Christmas break there might be a little lull in it. But once they go back to school again for a week or two then I think the rate of absenteeism is going to go right up."

A former Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Dr McDaid said a proactive approach to the outbreak is needed.

“I can see this dragging on into February or March,” he said.

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