Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Sunday, 31 May 2009 17:48 UK

Eton swine flu outbreak spreads

The chapel of Eton College
Eton College will remain closed until 7 June

Three further Eton College pupils have been diagnosed with swine flu, taking the total number of cases at the top public school to four.

More suspected cases at the Berkshire school are being investigated after a pupil tested positive there last week.

Health chiefs confirmed there were another 17 cases of the virus across the UK, bringing the total to 246.

The new cases included one patient from Wales, which is believed to be the first swine flu case in the country.

They also included two cases in Scotland.

Letter sent

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said earlier on Sunday that 32 suspected cases were being investigated at Eton, the boys' school once attended by Princes William and Harry.

In a letter to parents, it warned of seven probable and 25 possible cases following confirmation on Thursday that a 13-year-old pupil had contracted the virus.

It read: "In general these students have mild illness. It is highly likely that these will be positive for swine influenza."

Dr Graham Bickler, of the HPA, said all cases had been relatively mild

The HPA has offered antiviral drugs to pupils and staff at the school.

Its letter continued: "The purpose of this is to minimise the likelihood of further spread of the virus to students and the families not already affected."

Eton College is regarded as one of Britain's top public schools and has 18 British prime ministers, including the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Walpole and Harold MacMillan, among its former pupils.

It will remain closed until 7 June. Boys are being allowed to return to the school to take public examinations under controlled conditions.

A number of other schools have also been forced to close in recent weeks because of the virus.

'Strategy effective'

Welford Primary School in Birmingham has been the biggest hit, with an outbreak of 76 cases.

Two children and one adult connected to the school and two people in north-west England are among the new cases.

They are all linked to previously confirmed outbreaks.

As well as the three Eton cases, a further six cases have been diagnosed in south-east England - all are said to be travel-related, as is the case in Wales.

Meanwhile in Scotland, two children, aged five and 13, were also confirmed to have swine flu, health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said.

The 13-year-old son of a Glasgow man who is critically ill with the virus has also contracted it, along with another child who was in contact with the family.

"While this is clearly a difficult time for the family concerned, I would like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low," Ms Sturgeon added.

Meanwhile, third year pupils at Dunoon Grammar School in Argyll are to be kept at home after a pupil emerged as a "probable" case of the virus.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the cases of swine flu in the UK had so far been mild, and there was not yet evidence of "widespread community transmission".

"Our strategy to slow the spread of the disease appears to have been effective, and the UK's arrangements continue to ensure that we are well-placed to deal with this new infection," he said.

However, it was still right to prepare for the "possibility of a global pandemic", he added.

Map showing UK swine flu cases



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