Investigation after five pupils test positive for virus
NHS Lanarkshire is carrying out a “community-wide investigation” after five pupils at three Monklands secondary schools tested positive for coronavirus.
Three youngsters from St Ambrose High and one at St Andrew’s High in Coatbridge are now self-isolating at home, along with another pupil from Caldervale High in Airdrie — while three other, non-pupil, cases have been linked to the schools.
NHS Lanarkshire Test and Protect has traced other close contacts to the Coatbridge cases who are also self-isolating, with the team also in the process of tracing contacts associated with the Caldervale High case.
All three schools remain open and the health board says the likely source of transmission connected to the Caldervale High was an “indoor social gathering”. Dr David Cromie, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health, said: “There is
evidence that mixing socially, particularly around social gatherings in houses, without maintaining physical distancing can transmit the virus and is a factor in this investigation.
“Our Test and Protect service is contacting anyone who may have been in close contact with the case.
“NHS Lanarkshire is working closely with North Lanarkshire Council and the school to identify all close contacts who are being given public health advice and being told to self-isolate.
“With the route of transmission likely to be through indoor social gatherings, I would urge all parents and young people to stick to the Scottish Government rules in order to avoid future cases within the community resulting in cases in the local schools.”
On the cases at the Coatbridge schools, NHS Lanarkshire director of public health Gabe Docherty said:“The first pupil at St Ambrose tested positive on August 13 after displaying mild symptoms since August 11.
“A second pupil, a close contact of the first outside of the school, also tested positive yesterday [August 13]. Neither attended the school at all.
“The third pupil at St Ambrose, a close contact of the other two outside of the school, tested positive this morning [August 14] and was present at school for around 20 minutes yesterday [August 13].
“This pupil had limited contact with any other pupils while in school. The pupil was immediately isolated and taken home to self-isolate for 14 days.
“The pupil at St Andrew’s tested positive this morning [August 14] and had attended school for a relatively short period of time yesterday, with limited contact with a defined number of individuals, therefore the risk to other pupils and staff has been assessed as being very low. No case has serious illness.”
Mr Docherty added: “Public health advice is being given to these individuals and they are being told to self-isolate.
“Our Test and Protect service will continue to contact anyone who may be affected and following the findings of a review this afternoon, the risk to the wider school community is low.
“The incident management team continues to meet daily and robust contact tracing continues.”
Airdrie MP Neil Gray said: “I have been assured by North Lanarkshire Council and NHS Lanarkshire that the risk of further infection is very low and it appears the virus may have been contracted via house parties.
“I wish the pupil at Caldervale and those at St Ambrose and St Andrew’s a very speedy recovery, but this should serve as a timely reminder to us all that we need to follow the guidelines set out by the Scottish Government.”
Coatbridge MSP Fulton MacGregor added: “I am sure we all feel a desire to have our daily lives return to greater normality, none more so than our young people who have come through some very challenging months, but as we continue to move out of lockdown, we can only enjoy the easing of restrictions by continuing to stick to the rules.”
NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, Dr Jennifer Darnborough, said:“The team is investigating any potential links to the wider community which is impacting on schools.
“It should be noted that given the current picture, there is no evidence presently to suggest there is transmission in schools, but people are asked to remain vigilant and practise physical distancing guidance.
“We are aware there will still be concern among both children and their parents. I can reassure them that all settings which these individuals have attended during their infectious period are being identified and assessed.
“Individuals should stay off school or work and get tested if they experience any Covid symptoms, such as a cough, fever or loss of taste or smell, even if they are mild.”
Derek Brown, executive director of education and families at North Lanarkshire Council, added: “We fully understand that parents and pupils will be anxious.
“No blame is attached to anyone who is interviewed by Test and Protect, but it is important that as much information as possible is given.
“In addition, pupil support within schools is available to any pupil who is anxious or has concerns.”
Cases Five pupils at three Monklands secondary schools — St Andrew’s, St Ambrose (above left) and Caldervale High — tested positive for coronavirus