Doncaster parents reveal impact of norovirus epidemic on their familes

Sky-high temperatures, vomiting and diarrhoea – this has been the story for many families in Stainforth and Thorne this week as illness has swept Doncaster.

Monday, 2nd December 2019, 5:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 6:37 pm

Last Friday saw both Trinity Academy in Thorne and Long Toft Primary School, in Stainforth, closed due to illness. Many youngsters have also reported ‘flu like symptoms. Parents at other nearby schools have also report poorly children.

Both schools returned to lessons today, Monday, following ‘deep cleans’ on their sites after concerns over norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

Jonathan Winch, executive principal of Trinity Academy, said: “In liaison with Public Health experts, we took the decision to close the Academy for one day after staff and students reported symptoms consistent with Norovirus.

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Norovirus vox pop. Pictured is Long Toft Primary.

“As this is a highly infectious virus and 124 students were off school, with the number increasing rapidly, we felt closure was a responsible course of action to avoid further spread of the infection.”

Officials at Long Toft Primary School on Church Road, Stainforth, confirmed they were open again, and that they had a large number of staff and pupils who had been off ill. Up to 50 pupils were off on various different days, they said. The school has 292 on roll.

Today parents in the two neighbouring towns told how they had been gripped by the illness.

Melanie Bradder, aged 32, from Stainforth, said two of her children had not been able to go to school on Thursday afternoon and Friday because of the deep clean at Long Toft.

Norovirus vox pop. Pictured is Melanie Bradder.

She added: My youngest son, he’s three, and he’s been bad for the last five days. He’s now at the point where we’re able to get his temperature under control, but he’s still not right in his self. But they have cleaned up what needs to be cleaned up. I’m doing all that I can with his medicines to keep his temperature down so that we don’t have to go to the hospital and get it sorted there.

“It is a very widespread problem. I’ve never known it close a school down so that they have to do a deep clealn. I think something needs looking into so that kids aren’t getting as bad as they are. I know a fair few kids who have been hit by it.”

She said she thought public health officials should be looking at the situation, and her son had not been able to go to nursery because of the illness.

Grandmother Joanne Davidson, also from Stainforth was dropping her grandson off at the nursery at Longtoft today. She said he had been sick, but when he got better there were hardly any children there. She said: “I think it has been a big surprise for everyone. I don’t think anyone expected to many children off. It’s been all about Calpol and cuddles to get him better.”

Norovirus vox pop. Pictured are Laura Wraith and Rebecca Ridmile.

Vizgilija Hamareza said her child was off from Longtoft after having a temperature of around 40 – but that they had coughs and sneezing rather than being sick. “It is worry that there is so much illness around,” she said.

In Thorne, dad Umar Mahmood said his son had been ill at another of the schools in Thorne, King Edward Primary School. He had also been had to be off ill.

He said: “He has had a temperature and ‘flu like symptoms. There have been a lot off at this school too.”

Mum of five Rebecca Redmile, also from Thorne, said all her children, aged between six weeks and 13 years, had suffered the winter vomiting bug, thought to be norovirus.

Norovirus vox pop. Pictured is Umar Mahmood.

She said two of her children were pupils at Brooke Primary School, and had been off for two weeks. She said there had also been a lot of pupils off ill there, but it had remained open. She said she had received a letter asking where her children where while they were off sick.

“It’s been horrendous, to be fair,” she said. “They’ve had high temperatures hitting 40, vomiting, diarrhoea – and generally unwell and not eating.”

Asked if she thought it had been widespread in Thorne, she added: “Yes, massively. Virtually all my friends have had it.”

Laura Wraith, also from Thorne, said: “My son threw up on the way to school – he’s eight. My eldest is eight and started to be sick on Wednesday. She goes to Trinity. While I was on the phone to the school to say she was ill I heard them announce on the tannoy that they were closing. I definitely think they did the right thing in closing and having a deep clean.”

Officials at Doncaster Royal Infirmary are aware of the cases in Thorne and Stainforth, but have not yet seen the bug impact on their wards.

Carol Scholey, Lead infection control nurse at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said: “Although very unpleasant, norovirus usually clears up in one or two days and most people can care for themselves with paracetamol and plenty of fluids. However, this contagious infection can have more worrying consequences for patients already ill in hospital.

Trinity Academy, Thorne. Picture: NDFP-30-11-19-Trinityacademy 1-NMSY

Whilst our wards are not currently affected by norovirus, an outbreak could mean that we have to restrict admissions and visitors to wards to contain the virus. That’s why it’s important not to visit hospital if you have had nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours. You can also help to reduce the spread of infection by washing your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before handling food.”

No comment has been available from Doncaster Council’s public health office.

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