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Swine flu epidemic spreads through Haringey schools

PUBLISHED: 14:41 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:17 07 September 2010

Campsbourne School

Campsbourne School

Charlotte Newton UP to 71 children and teachers at a Hornsey Primary School have been diagnosed with swine flu, to the shock and anguish of the community. A child in the nursery of the Campsbourne School and Children s Centre in Nightingale Lane, tested p

Charlotte Newton

UP to 71 children and teachers at a Hornsey Primary School have been diagnosed with swine flu, to the shock and anguish of the community.

A child in the nursery of the Campsbourne School and Children's Centre in Nightingale Lane, tested positive for the H1N1 virus last Monday.

Within hours, dozens of anxious parents phoned the school to say their child was unwell with a high fever, ear ache and vomiting.

Teachers also fell ill with the vomiting and diarrhoea bug and were told to stay at home.

The school hall was opened as an emergency walk-in clinic and GPs treated up to 50 worried families.

Last Wednesday, the school shut for a week as the number of diagnosed cases swelled to 71.

Headteacher Angela Ryan told the Broadway that it had been an incredibly stressful week.

"I have to say it has been one of the hardest weeks of my time in education," said the 45-year-old.

"It was the fear factor, the worry that something terrible could happen. But we took advice from the Health Protection Agency and kept parents updated on the situation with text messages."

Ms Ryan said the decision to close the school had not been taken lightly but that parents and the Hornsey community had been incredibly supportive.

She added: "There are a lot of other schools in the same position but they're not swabbing children any more because we know it's in the community. It's now being presumed that any child with the symptoms has swine flu."

She urged people to help prevent the spread of infection by using tissues to catch all sneezes, throwing used tissues away, and washing their hands regularly to kill the virus. Pupils at schools across Haringey who may have displayed flu-like symptoms have been told to stay at home.

The Health Protection Agency sent a letter out to all parents in Haringey on Tuesday (June 24).

It stated that because a growing number of children have tested positive for the virus and it was in the community - there would be no added health benefit to closing more schools.

"Please be reassured that most children will have a mild illness similar to normal seasonal flu, and will recover," the letter said.

The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show that 528 people in London have been officially diagnosed with swine flu. The H1N1 virus first hit Haringey last month when a 21-year-old man spent 10 days at the Whittington Hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway. He was kept in isolation and was discharged on Sunday, May 31.

For the latest information on swine flu visit: www.nhs.uk or call the swine flu information line on 0800 1513 513; or NHS direct on 0845 46 47.

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