‘Sharp increase’ in virus outbreak sparks health alert across Sussex

A ‘sharp increase’ in people suffering from a vomiting bug in the south east has sparked a new alert from health officials.

The move follows the closure of a school in Horsham yesterday because of a suspected outbreak of the virus.

The school - All Saints CE Primary - has announced it will remain closed today and tomorrow after a ‘significant number’ of children fell ill.

The school said it had decided to close following consultations with Public Health England.

And today Public Health England has issued new advice in a bid to halt the spread of the winter vomiting bug - norovirus.

A spokesman said: “Levels of reported outbreaks in the south east are higher than this time last year.”

Dr Girija Dabke, public health consultant for Public Health England South East, said that in recent weeks “we have seen outbreaks in schools and care homes, as the infection is more widespread in settings where people are in close contact.

“While it usually only lasts one to two days, it can be extremely unpleasant and is highly contagious.

“The most effective way to stop it spreading is by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food, and staying away from work or school until you have been symptom free for 48 hours.

“Alcohol or antibacterial hand sanitisers do not protect against this sickness bug.”

Public Health England says that norovirus affects people of all ages and is transmitted by contact with hands or surfaces that the virus has landed on from an infected person.

“All contaminated surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after an episode of illness,” the spokesman said;

“Food preparation should also be avoided by those who have been ill until 48 hours after symptoms have disappeared.”

Dr Dabke added: “Most people will make a full recovery fairly quickly, but it is important to drink plenty of fluids during that time to prevent dehydration especially in the very young, and elderly.

“We advise not to visit GP surgeries and hospitals with symptoms, however if you’re concerned, you should contact NHS 111 or talk to your GP by phone.”

Meanwhile, Horsham’s All Saints School says it plans to reopen on Thursday after carrying out an “enhanced clean as a precautionary measure.”