Health

Hilbre High School announces closure after parent diagnosed with coronavirus

By Emma Gunby at

England’s Chief Medical Officer has this afternoon announced a positive coronavirus case in Wirral.

The news comes after Hilbre High School revealed it will be closed until at least Friday after a step-parent of a pupil was diagnosed with the virus.

Wirral Public Health confirmed that the Wirral resident, who became infected whilst in Italy, has been transferred to a specialist unit for treatment.

Julie Webster, Director of Public Health for Wirral Council said: “Wirral Council is working with Public Health England (PHE) and local health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Wirral are protected.

“When a person tests positive for coronavirus, PHE speaks to them to identify anyone who has had close contact with them during the time they are considered to be infectious and go all out to find these people as soon as possible and give them the advice they need.

“We are aware that Hilbre High School has taken the decision to close today. PHE have spoken to the school, assessed the risk and confirmed that there is currently no information to suggest that there is any increased health risk to any pupils, staff and families at this time, and therefore no public health reason to remain closed at the current time.

“If you haven’t been contacted by PHE you don’t need to do anything, other than follow the existing advice for the general public.”

Dr Will Welfare, Public Health England North West, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with one of the latest confirmed cases of COVID-19. The case is a resident of Wirral and became infected whilst in Italy.

“This case is not linked to the repatriated guests who are currently in the Arrowe Park Hospital facility and I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low.

“Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”

Hilbre High School issued a statement this morning announcing it will be closed until at least Friday after a parent of a pupil was diagnosed with coronavirus.

West Kirby Today understands it is a step parent of a child and they were only in limited contact before the step parent was diagnosed.

Headteacher Mark Bellamy said the child did attend school yesterday before the diagnosis had been confirmed. He said, as a result, he had taken the decision to close the school against the advice of Public Health England.

The school issued a further statement, confirming the student concerned was not showing any symptoms but was now in self-isolation at home and would not attend school for fourteen days.

In a statement posted on the school’s website, he said: “As a precaution, we are closing Hilbre High School today. I have come to this decision to allow our school community to move forward and ensure that the school is clean for all of our staff and students. I can confirm that we have not been asked to close by the local authority or Public Health England. We expect to reopen on Friday 6th March.”

He added: “No student or member of staff who went on the ski trip, has tested positive for Coronavirus. Last week, I chose to keep the school open following advice from the Government and Public Health England. Today, as I believe this confirmed case directly impacts on my students and staff. It is for this reason I am closing the school.

“Hilbre High School will reopen when I am confident that there is no risk to students following today’s Coronavirus confirmation. Once I know the outcome to tests done on the students concerned, I will then be able to make an informed decision about when to reopen.”

At time of publication, there were 51 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

According to Public Health England, good hygiene is the best prevention.

Julie Webster said: “There are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.

“If you have recently been to one of the affected countries and are feeling unwell, you should phone the NHS’s 111 helpline for further advice straight away – please don’t go to your doctor. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.”

Wirral Council, PHE and the NHS are well prepared to deal with coronavirus. If you haven’t been contacted by PHE you don’t need to do anything, other than follow the existing advice for the general public.

The Department for Education has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)