Byline: TIM ROSS, MARK PRIGG, BENEDICT MOORE-BRIDGER AND FELIX ALLEN
A NURSERY has joined three London schools which have been forced to close amid fears that swine flu is spreading among children.
Dolphin School in Clapham, Alleyn's School in Dulwich and South Hampstead High School have all been shut following confirmed cases. Noah's Ark Nursery in Clapham has been shut as a precaution because of its links to Dolphin School.
Britain now has 27 confirmed cases of swine f lu -- 13 in London -- with 331 people suspected of having the virus awaiting test results. Experts believe an 11-year-old girl who attends Alleyn's and infected her two sisters is at the centre of the London outbreak, Britain's worst so far with six cases.
In Dulwich, several schools were today put on high alert as it was feared a joint coach service could spread infections.
Parents were urged to watch out for symptoms. The London Assembly called an extraordinary meeting of its health and public services committee..
The first Department of Health leaflets of a blanket nationwide campaign were being delivered today.
London's schools have already been identified as a potential flashpoint for the spread of the virus. A report by emergency planning body London Resilience says: "Influenza spreads particularly rapidly in closed communities such as schools or residential homes. As children will have no resid- ual immunity, they could be among the groups worst affected and can be 'super spreaders'. " Private schools are being urged to set up quarantine rooms to isolate pupils suspected of having swine flu.
Parents could be forced to disclose their children's medical conditions to teachers under emergency measures designed to contain the outbreak.
Legal advice issued to more than 1,200 independent schools said parents should be required to agree to quarantine procedures if their children begin to show flu symptoms.
The advice, drawn up by lawyers Veale Wasbrough for the Independent Schools Council, says headteachers should ensure their school medical rooms are "well stocked and prepared for pupils with the symptoms of flu".
The guidance came amid fears that further schools will be affected as the virus is transmitted between siblings.
The 11-year-old girl at Alleyn's caught the illness following a trip to America at Easter and although her younger sisters did not travel with her, Wandsworth Primary Care Trust today confirmed the children had caught the H1N1 virus.
The Health Protection Agency said although the Dolphin School had closed they would not be prescribing Tamiflu as the children had not displayed any symptoms while at school.
At Alleyn's, nurses handed out Tamiflu to all 1,300 staff and pupils after the HPA confirmed that five Year 7 pupils had the infection. The school will be shut for at least a week. …