Despite reassurances from officials, 56 pupils call in absent The parents of more than a quarter of the pupils at the Lam Tin kindergarten at the centre of a bird-flu scare refused to send their children to class yesterday - despite reassurances that human-to-human transmission of the disease was highly unlikely. A day after it was announced that a five-year-old boy had tested positive for a rare and relatively mild form of bird flu, desks at the Yuen Yuen Kindergarten he attended were scrubbed clean and the playground outside hosed down with bleach. The Department of Health said the H9N2 flu infection had most likely been transmitted by a bird. Officials say transmission from person to person is unlikely. Department staff yesterday collected 15 samples of bird droppings from outside the kindergarten, in Ping Tin estate, particularly from around a large tree popular with birdlife. Doctors from the department spoke with parents last night about the disease. After the meeting, nurses took blood and throat swab samples from about 10 children, on a voluntary basis, to test for the presence of bird flu. Tests are also being offered at a Mongkok clinic. 'The chance for human-to-human transmission is very low,' agreed one parent, Mr Lai, whose son is a pupil at the kindergarten. 'But I will consult with my family whether to get the blood test.' Of the kindergarten's 211 students, 56 were absent yesterday, said principal Wong Sau-han. Morning sessions were held at the primary school next door while the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department disinfected the kindergarten. Ms Wong claimed some parents had kept their children out of kindergarten yesterday not because they feared they would catch the disease but because it was inconvenient to take them to the primary school. Staff from the Department of Health also disinfected the boy's Kwun Tong home last night. Three family members have mild coughs without fever. Samples were taken from them for testing. Environmental samples were also taken from poultry stalls near their home. The boy was admitted to United Christian Hospital on November 27. He was discharged two days later.