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Govt closes four schools over legionella concerns

Pic: Pixabay

The Gibraltar Government has closed four schools due to the presence in the schools’ water system of legionella bacteria, which can cause lung inflammation.
In a press statement issued late this evening, the government said St Bernard's Lower Primary, St Bernard's Upper Primary, St Joseph's Lower Primary and St Joseph's Upper Primary would be closed for “at least” two days, following advice from the Director of Public Health Dr Sohail Bhatti.
“During this time, the water system at these four schools will be subjected to a hypochlorination treatment,” the government said.
“Parents are being notified of the closure of the schools through the normal communication channels.”
“The Department of Education is considering alternative arrangements for pupils and will advise parents accordingly.”
The government added it was not be possible for the Department of Education to make such arrangements for tomorrow.
“The Government regrets the decision to close schools but considers that the safety of staff and pupils is the paramount consideration,” the statement said.
The closing of the four schools, is less than a week after school’s reopened due to the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The legionella bacteria found in part of the school’s’ water system can cause Legionnaires' disease which is a severe form of pneumonia.
Older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires' disease.
The legionella bacterium can also cause Pontiac fever, a milder illness resembling the flu.
Legionnaires' disease primarily affects the lungs, and symptoms include: headache, muscle aches, fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Pontiac fever, a mild form of Legionnaires' disease, can produce fever, chills, headache and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn't infect the lungs, and symptoms usually clear within two to five days.