Two Gloucestershire schools close as winter vomiting bug strikes
TWO schools have been forced to close after a sickness bug swept through pupils.
The winter vomiting bug struck at Minsterworth CofE Primary and Coalway Junior School.
Around half the pupils at Minsterworth came down with the bug, and a large proportion at Coalway, near Coleford.
Both closed their doors yesterday for a deep clean to take place. They expect to reopen on Monday.
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The illness, also known as norovirus, is the most common stomach bug in the UK and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
Both Minsterworth and Coalway had crossed a trigger point of having more than 20% of their children affected, a Gloucestershire County Council spokesman said.
"Our response is to inform the Health Protection Agency. Specialist cleaning crews then go in," he said.
In December, two other schools were shut for a short while because of norovirus.
They were St John's Primary in the Forest and a secondary, Barnwood Park.
Minsterworth school has only 60 boys and girls, of whom about 45% contracted the bug.
Headteacher Angie Ritchie confirmed around half the pupils were suffering.
The closure was necessary for the deep clean of the premises to take place, she said.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this caused to parents but we are sure they will understand that the closure was in the best interest of all our pupils," she said.
"We wish all those pupils suffering from the bug a speedy recovery."
Coalway, which is about three times the size of Minsterworth, also had "high levels" of the sickness bug, according to the county council.
Up to a million people in Britain catch the winter vomiting bug every year.
Dr Charles Irish, consultant for the South West (North) Health Protection Unit said: "Levels of norovirus in Gloucestershire have remained within expected levels for this time of year but unfortunately because of the bug's highly infectious nature, it can spread rapidly in close knit communities such as schools or hospitals.
"To try and help prevent the spread of the illness within the school, we have asked the schools to remind parents to keep children with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting away from school. It is important that children stay away from school until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours."
Medics said sufferers should drink plenty of water, take paracetamol for aches and pains and stay at home.
Patients should also wash their hands frequently to help stop it spreading.