Russian cities closing schools to fight flu

Three cities in Russia including Moscow shut down their schools this week and suggested children not play in groups in an effort to stop the worst central Russian flu outbreak in over a decade.  

Moscow's education department order included the shut down of over 1,500 public and private schools. Close to 500,000 students received an unscheduled week-long vacation, AFP reports.

Moscow's kindergartens will remain open and older children will not be affected, but parents with younger children have been instructed to take extra care.

"A lot of our students are out," a Moscow school director said, according to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. "So it just made sense to close the schools instead of teaching three or four kids and then having everyone else catch up."

Nearly 92,000 residents of Moscow currently suffer from respiratory infections or the flu and 52,000 of them are children. This is a 42 percent climb over the average of previous years, according to AFP.

The two other affected cities are Chelyabinsk and Yukutsk. Some other central Russia regions shut their schools down as a precaution. The outbreak of influenza has also been accompanied with some swine flu spreading through Moscow and other major cities. There have been 93 H1N1 infections but no deaths reported in Moscow.

There have been two reported deaths from H1N1 throughout the country - a two-year old girl and a Ukranian national.