swine flu plane 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Although campers on a World Bnei Akiva trip in Belgium got a new shipment of kosher food Sunday, they have had a not-so-kosher visitor since Thursday - H1N1 swine flu.
Ze'ev Schwartz, director-general of World Bnei Akiva, said some of the 87 campers - 24 of whom are Israeli - and three staff emissaries near Normandy had experienced symptoms of swine flu.
The campers were quarantined and a local hospital has sent doctors, but the lag between their being called and arriving at the camp has been problematic.
"They are taking their time in coming there," said Schwartz, who mentioned that police were barricading the camp to protect it from local media. "Some kids have been vomiting and have high temperatures. By the time the doctor arrives, it could be an hour [from when the call was made]."
Schwartz said he had contacted France-United States Memorial Hospital in Normandy in an attempt to get a full-time doctor at the camp. The hospital declined to comment to The Jerusalem Post.
But Dr. Michael Gdalevich, regional health officer for the Ashkelon District, said a permanent doctor was unnecessary.
"Having a doctor just in case is really Jewish," he said jokingly. "We have influenza every year in the fall and the winter. If you arrange a trip with 20 or so kids, you don't take a doctor just in case. Influenza is influenza, and this type of virus has been mild all over the world."
Still, the best thing to do is prevent the spread of the virus, he said. The camp has required all participants to wear masks to limit the spread of germs.
"It's simple, it's common sense, but you have to tell people, 'Don't cough into your hands, do it in a tissue,'" Gdalevich said. "Everyone knows that, but they don't do it."
It wasn't difficult for camp advisers to see past the masks and notice campers' spirits were ill, too. The campers, who had been looking forward to an exciting last week, will return home Thursday.
"Morale was low," Schwartz said. "We have since put a lot of effort into singing and dancing to improve morale, and things have improved since."