School hit by bug cancels Christmas

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CHRISTMAS has been cancelled at a school where 120 children were hit by a vomiting and diarrhoea bug.

Pupils and parents at Balgreen Primary were told the school’s nativity play and carol concerts have been scrapped to prevent further spread of the norovirus bug.

One mother, who has four children at the school, said: “It’s hard for the kids to take, especially as they have worked so hard for everything.”

The school was closed last Friday after 52 pupils were struck down with the bug, with the total number now at 120.

A deep clean was ordered over the weekend and the school was due to re-open on Monday, but it had to remain closed for a further day after it emerged it had not been cleaned properly.

Some parents were also upset their children’s trip to the pantomime had to be cancelled.

This latest news has come as another blow. It is understood pupils have been rehearsing for the nativity since October.

The mother-of-four said it was difficult to understand why cancelling all Christmas events was necessary. She said: “If the school is able to open, why can’t we have these events?”

But school bosses say they have to put the health of children and staff first.

Headteacher Avril Wilson said: “The NHS has advised us on the how to minimise the risk of the bug spreading further.

“As a precautionary measure, large gatherings need to be avoided. We’re all disappointed but the health of everyone at the school is the most important thing.”

One parent agreed with the reasons behind cancelling the events, saying: “I can see why they are doing it and it’s probably quite sensible.”

Dr Janet Stevenson, consultant in public health for NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian Health Protection Team is investigating an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting, possibly caused by norovirus, at Balgreen Primary School. More cases have been reported today and we are continuing to monitor the situation closely.

“We are in daily contact with the headteacher and advised on Monday that all trips and events, which could involve members of the wider public, should be taken at a later date as they may increase spread of the infection.

“We have also advised that anyone attending the school who is displaying symptoms should stay off and not return for 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.

“One of our specialist nurses visited the school [yesterday] to ensure the best possible precautions are put in place to minimise the risk of further transmission; this includes specific advice on hand washing.”