By Shaun Milne
A TOP boarding school for boys is the latest to be struck by an outbreak of Swine Flu.
Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh has so far seen 160 of its youngsters contracting the dreaded H1N1 virus.
Some 10 members of staff at the private school are also reported to have fallen ill.
None have yet needed hospital treatment.
But teachers say it has ripped through the school “like wildfire” after 12 pupils at the all-boys facility fell ill a week ago.
Older boys aged between 13 and 15 have so far been the worst affected. Extra nursing cover has now been drafted in to cope.
Deputy headmaster Nigel Rickard said: “It’s highly contagious and despite the fact that we have very strict health policies with cleaning hands, inevitably in close proximity in a school, it spreads around like wildfire and any school would find it difficult to contain.”
“One or two have had it worse than others. We had 120 pupils off at its height. The maximum time off school has been one week – but no one has needed hospital treatment.”
“We have had to take on extra nursing cover and had to extend our health facilities within the school by providing more beds for the sick children.
“We have a medical centre in the school which is fully staffed by the fully qualified sisters and we have opened up an ancillary medical centre.
“Some boarding pupils have gone home, others are being cared for in school.
“We are keeping going – but it’s not been an easy time.”
Children who had been displaying symptoms have been advised they must have been free of sore throats and high temperatures for 48 hours before returning to school.
Merchiston, where fees range between £3700 and £8000 a year, was founded in 1828 and has the motto ‘Ready ay Ready’.
Former pupils include ITV’s first chairman and banking chief Sir Peter Burt along with Sir Donald Acheson, former Chief Medical Officer for the UK between 1983 and 1991.
The crisis comes hard on the heels of an outbreak at Linlithgow Academy last week when 300 pupils failed to make it into the West Lothian school.