AN OUTBREAK of a sickness bug has forced the closure of a Southampton school.

Pupils at King Edward VI have been told to stay at home for the rest of the term after pupils were struck down with gastroenteritis.

Head teacher at the independent school, Julian Thould, said the governing body took the decision after taking advice from health authorities.

According to Public Health England South, pupils began feeling unwell after going on a school trip to the New Forest last week.

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A spokesman said that out of 129 students who went, 21 started showing symptoms, primarily vomiting.

After returning to school several more reported being sick, including some who had not been on the trip – giving rise to concerns that bug was the highly contagious gastroenteritis.

The spokesman said they had provided advice to the school and families of those affected regarding infection prevention.

Mr Thould, below, said the decision was made to close the school to prevent a further spread of the virus.

He said: “We have been working closely with the Wessex Public Health Centre as soon as we were made aware of the possible infection with gastroenteritis of a small number of our pupils.

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"Every effort is being made to ensure that the infection is limited in its impact.

“It is always a difficult decision to make to close the school. However, we prefer to take a precautionary approach rather than risk further infection.”

Mr Thould stressed the move to close the school was a “precautionary step” three days before the end of term, which was due to be on Friday.

No staff at the Wilton Road school, which has 964 students on roll, are currently thought to have been affected.

Mr Thould said: “The pupils concerned are under medical care and have already responded well to treatment. The school has been closed for the remainder of this term.

“Health advice has been provided for all staff and students at the school and for all parents.”

A deep clean of the school would now be undertaken for the remainder of the week, he added.

King Edward VI is one of the top performing schools in the region which educates youngsters from 11 to 18 years old with fees costing around £13,800 per year.

What is gastroenteritis?

GASTROENTERITIS is where the stomach and bowel
become inflamed and is usually caused by a viral or
bacterial infection.
The two main symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhoea
and vomiting, which usually clear up in around five
to seven days.
To limit the spread of the virus health bosses recommend good hand hygiene, not sharing towels, or eating utensils and remaining at home for 48 hours after the last episode of illness.