Primary school pupil has swine flu

A SUFFOLK primary school pupil has been diagnosed with swine flu, it emerged tonight.

A SUFFOLK primary school pupil has been diagnosed with swine flu, it emerged tonight.

The youngster from St Louis Roman Catholic Primary School in Newmarket is currently receiving treatment for the condition - the 18th confirmed case in Suffolk.

Suffolk County Council said the school would remain open.

A spokesman said: “A case of H1N1 swine flu at St Louis Roman Catholic Primary School has been confirmed.

“The school will remain open as usual, and is working closely with the Health Protection Agency, Suffolk County Council and NHS Suffolk to monitor the situation.”

Teresa Selvey, St Louis headteacher, added: “The school's leadership team and governors will continue to monitor the situation and will keep parents informed if the situation should change.”

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News of the latest confirmed case comes as health bosses in Suffolk prepare to tackle an increasing number of swine flu cases which they fear could affect more than 100,000 people in the county.

However experts at NHS Suffolk believe the strain of the pandemic is unlikely to be a serious threat to people's health.

Dr Brian Keeble, consultant in public health medicine at NHS Suffolk, said: “Because it is new people are concerned and worrying more than I think is necessary, though I completely understand why.

“People want to know someone who has experienced it and is all right before they well believe it is a mild virus.

“We have been lucky in Suffolk so far and we've had very few cases.”

Dr Keeble said he was now less concerned about the flu than he had been at the outbreak of the global spread in May.

However he added that he expected a continuing increase of cases over the summer and an “acceleration” in the autumn, during the typical flu season.

The virus has already closed one Suffolk school. Pupils at St Albans High School in Ipswich have been told not to return until Tuesday after a teacher was confirmed to be suffering from swine flu, and a further two staff members and three pupils were suspected to be affected.

Experts at NHS Suffolk think up to 20% of the population could contract swine flu, higher than the normal figure of between 5% and 15% for seasonal flu.

That could mean about 117,000 of NHS Suffolk's population of 585,000 could be affected, with 2,340 needing hospital treatment, putting an extra strain on the health service.

Dr Keeble said: “It will be a challenge for the health service to cope with, but we are putting plans in place.”

He urged people not to panic about swine flu and to make sure they always used a tissue to catch sneezes, threw away used tissues where germs can linger and regularly washed their hands.