Schools hit by outbreak of norovirus

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TWO schools in Portsmouth have been closed after a suspected outbreak of norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

Stamshaw Juniors will be thoroughly disinfected tomorrow following dozens of complaints of stomach aches - and the infants school will also close as a precaution to reduce the spread of illness within families.

Both schools are expected to be open on Monday.

Simon Cattermole, head, said: ‘’By about 8.30am we had dozens of phone calls from parents whose children had stomach bugs to let us know they wouldn’t be coming in.

‘And in the course of the day we sent home 80 children - we only have half the school in at the moment.

‘We will be closing the school so that it is properly and thoroughly disinfected, and I hope everything will return to normal on Monday.’

Director of public health Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones said the norovirus bug was highly contagious and affected people of all ages.

He explained: ‘It is highly contagious, and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

‘Outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person.

‘It usually passes through the body in around two to three days, and there is usually no need to seek emergency medical advice.

‘It is important to have plenty of water to drink and, if you feel the need, paracetamol-based medication for any fever or aches and pains. However, if you are concerned then you should contact your pharmacy or NHS Direct on 0845 4647 and only contact a GP if your symptoms do not improve.

‘It’s important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water – particularly after contact with someone who is ill, and after using the toilet.

‘Cleaning hard surfaces with detergent, which includes a bleach solution, is also advised to remove traces of the virus.’