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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 15:46 GMT
School claims hand wash success
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Sickness numbers are down following the new hand wash policy
A school in Edinburgh has claimed its sickness numbers have fallen since it introduced hospital-style hand washes in a bid to combat infection.

George Watson's College is thought to be the first school in Scotland to make the move.

It introduced the gel washes in key parts of the school in January to prevent the winter vomiting bug.

On an average day, more than 20,000 pupils in Scotland are off sick but the school said absentee numbers were down.

Hand hygiene is the single most important way to prevent the spread of germs.

'Common sense'

However, despite high-profile campaigns in hospitals, it was found that up to half of all doctors were still not washing their hands at crucial times.

Gareth Edwards, school principal, explained that the measure was introduced in response to fears that the virulent virus would affect school attendance.

"We thought we would need to do something so we got together - nurses, cleaners and teaching staff - and came up with this solution of putting sanitising gel dispensers around the school, especially on the way to the refectory where the children are going to eat.

"It's a low cost option, it seems to be a common sense solution and we have seen a decline in the number of children being off school with infections and bugs."

Everyone was gradually getting into the habit of using the dispensers regularly, he added, and pupils said they found them convenient and easy to use.

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