Swine flu closes Suffolk school

A SUFFOLK school has been closed for a week after an outbreak of swine flu.

Rebecca Lefort

A SUFFOLK school has been closed for a week after an outbreak of swine flu.

Pupils at St Albans Roman Catholic High School in Digby Road, Ipswich, have been told not to return to lessons until next Tuesday.

Last week a teacher at the school was confirmed to be suffering from the virus, and several more cases involving both staff and pupils at the school are now suspected. St Albans has nearly 1,000 pupils, aged from 11 to 18.

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The school took the decision to close its doors at the end of school yesterday after discussions with anxious parents and staff, despite previous advice from the Health Protection Agency that it was safe to remain open.

Dennis McGarry, headteacher, said: “We have taken the decision to close the school to help allay concerns from parents and members of staff.

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“We hope to reduce the anxiety of everyone concerned with the school. We have written to parents letting them know about the closure and included some general advice about what to do if they are in any way concerned.

“Pupils will be able to access their work and talk to members of staff through the school's website.”

The pupils and staff who displayed possible symptoms are now being tested for the pandemic and are being treated by medics. All the suspected victims have either been sent home or stayed away as a precaution.

The sixth form induction days planned from today have also had to be cancelled and will be rearranged in the near future.

The news of the school closure came as it emerged that there were 17 confirmed cases of swine flu in the NHS Suffolk area, which excludes Waveney.

The primary care trust confirmed the figures yesterday, a rise from the 11 cases it had recorded at the end of last week.

Yesterday it also emerged that a nine-year-old has become the third person in the UK to die after contracting swine flu.

The youngster, who had underlying health problems, died in Birmingham Children's Hospital in the past few days.

NHS Suffolk has previously reassured people that it has swine flu under control.

Dr Brian Keeble, consultant in public health medicine at NHS Suffolk, said: “We are continuing work to slow the spread of the disease and to put in place arrangements with partner organisations to ensure that Suffolk is well-placed to deal with this new infection, including the supply of antivirals to treat people if they become ill.”

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