Belfast Telegraph

Portstewart Primary School shut for 'deep clean' after virus strikes pupils and staff

Portstewart Primary School in County Londonderry was closed today to facilitate a deep clean. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
Portstewart Primary School in County Londonderry was closed today to facilitate a deep clean. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

By David Young

A Co Londonderry primary school has been closed for a deep clean because of a widespread virus outbreak that has affected dozens of pupils, staff and family members.

Portstewart Primary School - which has over 200 pupils - warned parents, pupils and staff to stay away after 45 were hit by vomiting and diarrhoea, believed to have been caused by norovirus.

The school posted a message on its website telling that "following advice from Education Authority, due to a widespread virus" the school would be closed to allow for a deep clean to take place.

The school will remain closed on Tuesday, October 1.

"We are working with the Public Health Agency to minimise the risk of spread of the infection within the school."

The website also asked parents whose children are unwell to keep them away from the school until they had been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

The school, located in Central Avenue, Portstewart, has more than 200 pupils and around 30 staff of teachers and support workers.

Norovirus, known better as the winter vomiting bug, is believed to be behind the outbreak, though it's understood tests are still being carried out by the Public Health Agency.

DUP councillor Mark Fielding is one of the school's governors. He said: "My understanding is that it's an airborne virus.

"There's to be a deep clean on Monday on the recommendation of the Education Authority," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Education Authority (EA) confirmed an outbreak of gastroenteritis at the north coast school had affected 45 pupils, staff and family members.

"The Education Authority is working closely with Portstewart Primary School, the Public Health Agency and other statutory agencies following reports relating to a number of cases of gastroenteritis among pupils, staff and family members of pupils at the school," she said.

"As a precautionary measure, in consultation with health and safety representatives in EA, the school will close on Monday 30 September 2019, so a deep clean can be undertaken.

"The health of pupils, staff and family members of pupils is of utmost importance and the situation will continue to be closely monitored."

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