Brown's swine flu visit

PUBLISHED: 17:41 06 May 2009 | UPDATED: 15:37 16 August 2010

<<enter caption here>> on May 4, 2009 in London, England.

<> on May 4, 2009 in London, England.

2009 Getty Images

AS SWINE flu hit a school just three miles from the borough, health workers were on high alert in anticipation of the pandemic spreading.

AS SWINE flu hit a school just three miles from the borough, health workers were on high alert in anticipation of the pandemic spreading.

Five pupils at Alleyn's School, in Dulwich, were diagnosed with the H1N1 virus over the bank holiday, prompting Princess Royal University Hospital staff to keep raised awareness of patients with flu symptoms.

The outbreak, caused by a pupil's visit to the US in April, was discovered just three days after Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Beckenham to assure the nation it was "well prepared" against the virus.

A spokesperson from Bromley PCT said: "There is no need for Bromley schools to shut at present, nor is there any need for them to exclude siblings of children who go to Alleyn's School.

"We request members of the public to take note of the information being disseminated by the Department of Health."

Alleyn's, a fee paying school that takes pupils from boroughs across London, refused to say whether the five students affected came from Bromley, Bexley or Gre_nwich.

However a spokesman for NHS London said that the Health Protection Agency would "follow the trail" of the virus by tracing friends and close contacts of the five pupils.

On Tuesday, it reported that some 13 cases of Swine Flu had been found in the capital.

The school was closed for seven days on advice from the Health Protection Agency as teachers battled to answer endless calls from parents asking for advice.

Southwark council told the Times that no further school closures were planned, whilst schools lying between Alleyn's and Bromley including Dulwich College and Bickley Park School said they had no plans to close or write to parents.

A spokesman for Bromley council said schools had been advised to operate normally as far as possible but to insist pupils wash hands regularly, dispose of used tissues quickly, have ill children collected as soon as possible, and reconsider school trips abroad.

Richard Moss, Head of Risk Management at Greenwich Teaching Primary Care Trust told the Times that every hospital has a flu pandemic handling plan.

He said: "The problem is that there can be no specific vaccine for a pandemic virus until it has happened.

"It will not be possible to develop a vaccine until after the specific pandemic virus strain has been identified. This is likely to be after the first wave of the pandemic has subsided.

"In the meanwhile there will be anti-viral drugs to give out."

Pupils at Alleyn's School, have all been issued Tamiflu drugs as a precaution, though the drugs are not available over the counter.

The government is supposed to be able to keep enough tablet-form anti-viral drugs available for 50 per cent of the population, as well as a stockpile of protective equipment.

In November Greenwich Teaching PCT successfully bid for some £10,000 from NHS London to spend on storage for pandemic-fighting equipment.

The priority for the PCT during an outbreak, said Mr Moss, was to protect NHS workers.

He added: "It is mostly about prioritising staff. The main issues are prevention and ensuring that those jobs are given staff that are key in trying to care for the sickest.

"It's best to keep people away from hospitals if we can so we can care for the sickest."

The Department of Health predicted that if infection rates hit 35 per cent, there could be approximately 470 clinical cases per GP practice at the peak of the pandemic.

The figures guiding the national framework also predict the death toll for a population the size of Bexley's could be around 400, along with more than 600 hospital admissions.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson told the BBC he expects a further more serious wave of cases later this year.

The department of Health swine flu hotline is 0800 151 3513, or for more information visit

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