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Strep A outbreak of more than 150 cases closes school

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A primary school had to close yesterday due to an outbreak of Strep A.

Some 150 students – around 40 per cent of the intake – at Kingsbridge Community Primary School in Devon had been absent due to illnesses, including infections linked to Strep A. It made the decision to close as a result.

The school, which also had 12 members of staff off sick, had a “deep clean” and was able to reopen today.

In a letter sent out to parents, the school said it was “experiencing a major outbreak of strep A” with 40 per cent of children and 23 per cent of staff absent.

A closure notice for the school was issued via the council, Devon Live reports.

Part of it read: “High levels of Strep A. We have 147 children absent today and 12 members of staff.”

Devon County Council also confirmed that officials from the Devon Integrated Care Board (ICB) had assisted the school in supporting children, families and staff.

Assistant Head of the school Miranda Martyn has confirmed that the school is open today (Wednesday) and staff shall work closely with public health experts and keep families informed as they move through this period. A statement said: “We’re open. We’re following all the public health guidance, and importantly we’ve got children and staff in who are ready to resume learning.

“We’ll continue to work closely with public health experts and keep families informed as we move through this period.”

A spokesperson for the UK Health Security Agency further told Devon Live: “Currently, no confirmed cases of invasive Group A strep linked to this school have been reported to UKHSA [UK Health Security Agency].”

Professor Dominic Mellon, Deputy Director for UKHSA South West, says the agency has contacted the school and offered advice in controlling the situation. He said: “We have been made aware that Kingsbridge Primary School has a high rate of absence due to illness circulating at the school. The school took the decision to close on Tuesday [December 13] due to staffing levels and to enable a deep clean.

“We have contacted the school to offer school public health advice in controlling the situation and determine the cause of the illnesses circulating. We understand that they plan to reopen today (December 14).”

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, said: “We’re aware that a number of pupils and staff are off with illnesses currently. The UKHSA is in touch with the school regarding public health advice for students and staff.

“To help reduce the risk and spread of infection, we advise people to follow basic good hand and respiratory hygiene measures:

• Wash your hands regularly using soap and warm water for 20 seconds

• use a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes and to discard of the tissue in the bin immediately

• not sharing eating utensils, clothes, bedding and towels

• and avoiding close contact with others if you are feeling unwell.”

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