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Suspected norovirus outbreak in Kent sees Herne Bay Junior School pupils fall ill

Dozens of primary pupils have missed class after falling ill with a highly contagious sickness bug.

As many as 76 youngsters are thought to have been sent home from Herne Bay Junior School after it was hit with an outbreak of suspected norovirus.

Pupils at Herne Bay Junior School have fallen ill with a winter sickness bug
Pupils at Herne Bay Junior School have fallen ill with a winter sickness bug

Public Health England (PHE) says the school has reported that a number of children have suffered diarrhoea and vomiting.

It provided advice to the school, which was then sent to parents.

The epidemic in Herne Bay coincides with the number of cases of the disease across the south east rising above the figure this time last year.

This has prompted PHE to issue advice to parents on how to deal with the illness, which is also called the "winter vomiting bug".

Dr Girija Dabke, a consultant for the body, said: “The increase in norovirus that we’re seeing is common for this time of year and is in keeping with what we are seeing across the wider country.

The hall at Herne Bay Junior School
The hall at Herne Bay Junior School

"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 1 to 2 days, it can be extremely unpleasant and is highly contagious."

Symptoms include vomiting, headaches, fever and in some cases diarrhoea.

Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus.

Instead, the health authority advises washing hands regularly with hot water and soap, keeping a separate towel for family members who have symptoms, and promptly disposing of used tissues to prevent the spread of infections.

Herne Bay Junior School head teacher Melody Kingman
Herne Bay Junior School head teacher Melody Kingman

Soiled clothing and linen should also be washed on a hot setting, while baths and washbasins should be cleaned thoroughly after use, and surfaces contaminated by bodily fluids should be disinfected.

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."

The NHS says patients should avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time.

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