South Africa

Concerned parents want 'flu-hit' Loreto Convent closed

Concerned parents want 'flu-hit' Loreto Convent closed
Pretoria - Five learners from the Loreto Convent Queenswood School in Pretoria, have been hospitalised with the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus, previously referred to as swine flu.

However, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has assured there is no outbreak of the virus in South Africa. The children suffered symptoms such as sudden onset of cough, fever and body pain.

Subsequently, some parents have called for the school to be closed until the scare is over.

Principal Marcello Pallozzi immediately contacted the institute and also sent parents a text to alert them of the situation.

A grandparent of a learner at the school said: “We think the school is not taking this matter seriously. The SMS sent to the parents indicated that only one child had the flu, but now there’s more.

“My grandson was showing signs and we took him to the doctor and strains were traced. Children are now going to go on holidays and I’m afraid they’ll spread the virus.”

Dr Sibongile Walaza, an epidemiologist at the NICD, said there were a number of clusters of influenza cases in schools.

He added that this was not uncommon as children were transmitters of flu. It rarely caused any severe complications in children of a school-going age, according to Walaza.

“If a school-going child has symptoms of influenza, they should remain at home, rest and take plenty of fluids.

“If danger signs such as chest pain or shortness of breath are noted, medical attention should be sought.”

According to the NICD, this year’s flu season, which started at the end of April, was ongoing, and transmission had reached high levels in the Viral Watch programme.

“However, the increase is a normal expected increase that takes place in winter. It is also common to observe clusters of influenza cases within homes and workplaces as people spread the infection to one another.

Another common site of clusters of influenza infections is within schools because children often have close contact with one another in the school environment.

“These clusters are expected and are not a cause for alarm.”

The NICD said the best way to prevent the spread of flu was to stay home if sick.

“School closures are not recommended as these can be disruptive and will not necessarily stop the spread of influenza,” it said.

Pretoria News