DOZENS of primary schoolchildren were sent home yesterday after a suspected outbreak of norovirus – the highly-contagious ‘winter vomiting bug’.
Half of Stamshaw Juniors in Portsmouth had to leave school following numerous complaints of stomach aches from both pupils and staff members.
By 8.30am, 30 children and five staff had already called in sick.
And in the course of the day 80 more youngsters and three adults were sent home.
Today, the junior school will be closed for a thorough disinfection and Stamshaw Infants will also shut as a precaution to reduce the spread of illness within families with children at both schools.
Headteacher Simon Cattermole said: ‘We’re doing everything we can to make sure we contain the situation.
‘We’ve talked to the children about precautions they should take like washing their hands.
‘I’ve booked a very thorough disinfection of our school and the school will be open again on Monday when I hope everything will go back to normal.
‘This bug usually lasts 48 hours so school will be open on Monday.’
He added: ‘At the start of the term this is a little frustrating but the most important thing to do is take the right action quickly to ensure it doesn’t spread.’
The city’s director of public health Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones warned the norovirus bug was highly contagious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
He explained: ‘Outbreaks in busy places like 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.
‘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.’
Anyone still concerned should contact their pharmacy or NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
Only call your GP if symptoms do not improve.