COVID PROBE

In­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter five pupils test pos­i­tive for virus

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Front Page -

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

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