A number of schools located in West Yorkshire were temporarily shut due to widespread outbreaks of norovirus and flu.
Two schools in Leeds and four in Bradford were closed with some of the properties undergoing deep cleans in order to combat the flu outbreaks. Other schools across the regions have also been shut over the past few weeks following similar outbreaks.
Holy Name Catholic Voluntary Academy in Cookridge underwent a deep clean in late November after approximately 50 children were forced to take days off school following the outbreak of a flu-like virus.
Norovirus is sometimes referred to as the “winter vomiting virus”. It is estimated that between 600,000 and one million individuals are infected with the virus each year. After 12 to 48 hours of becoming infected, the virus causes sudden onset of nausea followed by vomiting and diarrhoea. Whilst the illness is not generally dangerous, most people make a full recovery within one to two days.
Dr Nicholas Aigbogun, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for PHE Yorkshire and Humber said primary school children should take the opportunity to be vaccinated when their school programme begins. He stated: “The flu vaccination is the best form of protection we have. If they haven’t already had the flu nasal spray, it is important children who are in the clinical risk groups of flu visit their GP as soon as possible to be vaccinated.”
Public Health England have said that such illnesses are expected to circulate around schools at this time of the year. However, they stress that good hygiene could help prevent the virus from spreading.
Schools affected in Bradford are Beckfoot Oakbank, Horton Park Primary, Beechcliffe Special School and Canterbury Nursery School and Centre for Children. In Leeds, both Parklands Primary and Leeds East Academy were shut.
Leeds East Academy posted on their website that an “increasing number of staff and students had been affected by symptoms similar to those of the norovirus” and that it would open as usual the following Monday.
Around 60 schools from across the north-east of England sent home pupils due to symptoms of flu and norovirus.
Dr Gayle Dolan from Public Health North East has said: “If you are well continue activities as normal, but if you are unwell it is important to stay away from school or work until you are better.” She added: “If you have diarrhoea or vomiting that is 48 hours after you have had symptoms and if you have flu it is until you are feeling better.”
Individuals are encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, particularly after using the toilet and also prior to eating in order to prevent infection from spreading.
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