China / Society

Children sickened during swimming lessons

By ZHOU HUIYING/TIAN XUEFEI (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-26 07:16

Since the beginning of August, nearly 300 children have suffered high fevers and eye inflammation after swimming lessons at a club in Harbin, Heilongjiang province.

On Wednesday, the Feiyu Swimming Club, affiliated with the Harbin Sports Training Center, convened a parents' conference and acknowledged that the students' symptoms had something to do with the water quality in the swimming pool.

"We have set up an office for compensation. Parents can register information about children who fell ill and provide receipts for medical treatment," said Sun Weimin, deputy director of the center. "We will pay compensation and promise to take responsibility for any related health problems that come up later."

"I'm a swimming enthusiast and have been using the center for many years. The conditions here are good, and I have never experienced any discomfort," said Xu Li, a 40-year-old mother. "So when my 7-year-old daughter showed an interest in swimming, I chose this club without hesitation."

She noted that the center is a professional training organization for swimmers and expressed hope that her daughter "will do something in swimming in the future."

Only eight lessons after she signed up for swimming lessons on Aug 4, her daughter developed a serious case of conjunctivitis, an eye infection, along with a throat inflammation with high fever, Xu said.

"Because the fever is persistent, my daughter had to be hospitalized for a week, which cost us more than 7,000 yuan ($1,052)," Xu said. "She was diagnosed with a viral infection and finally cured with hormonal drugs."

She added that students take lessons in a specialized children's pool, and parents are not allowed to enter.

"I never thought the illness was caused by the water in the pool until I joined a WeChat group. There are 500 parents in the group, and nearly 300 of them talked about the same situation as my daughter."

Sun, the director, said the problem will be corrected.

"On Tuesday, the city's disease prevention center took water samples, and we are waiting for the results," Sun said. "We have closed the children's swimming pool and have begun comprehensive maintenance."

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