THE Norovirus and similar stomach related illnesses have caused widespread absence from work and school through sickness in South Lakeland.

A number of schools have reported a high number of students have been missing due to illness and the outbreak has also had an effect on staff numbers.

However, at the time of going to press, Cumbria County Council (CCC) reported no schools in the South Lakeland area had been forced to temporarily close due to sickness and measures by the many schools affected had proved effective in allowing them to remain open.

But CCC urged continued alertness and offered advice to school staff, students, pupils and also parents.

"Diarrhoea and vomiting illnesses can easily spread from one person to another, particularly in places like schools where people are in close contact with each other for much of the day," said a CCC statement.

"Anyone who becomes ill should stay away from school until they have been free from symptoms for a full 48 hours.”

CCC also offered the following advice to families.

• Follow good standards of personal hygiene including washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food.

• Drink plenty of fluids and rest to prevent dehydration. If you have concerns about your child becoming dehydrated, consult your GP or local pharmacy.

Public Health England (PHE)has also issued general advice for flu outbreaks.

"Symptoms can include fever, an aching body, dry cough, headache, sore throat, diarrhoea or tummy pain, feeling sick and being sick," said the PHE statement.

"Flu/Flu like illnesses can be unpleasant, but if you're otherwise healthy it'll usually clear up on its own within a week.

"However, it can cause serious illness in those with other health problems.

"To reduce spread of infection it is important to keep children with any symptoms of flu-like illness away from school until they have recovered, are free of symptoms and have not had a fever for at least 24 hours.

"Good respiratory hygiene i.e. covering nose/mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, discarding tissues after use and washing hands with water and soap, is also important to reduce the risk to others.

"It is important that any pupil, staff member or household contacts (such as grandparents or pregnant women) who fit into any of the eligible / “at risk” group list below have their seasonal flu vaccine each year.

"If you believe you / your child or any household member fits into the group below and has not already had their seasonal flu vaccine, please ensure they get vaccinated (by your GP or school as appropriate).

"The following are in an “at risk” group and eligible for flu vaccination:

• Those aged 65 years and over

• Those aged six months to under 65 years with chronic lung, heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease, or those who are immunosuppressed and those with diabetes mellitus

• Pregnant women

• Those resident long term in care homes

• Those who are morbidly obese (BMI >40)

• Carers - If you are the main carer for someone who is elderly or disabled

Additionally, all children aged two to ten years on 31st August 2019 are eligible for the free flu vaccine.

If you are concerned about you /your child’s illness, particularly if you/your child are in an “at risk” group, please contact your GP.

Further information is available at .