Exclusive: English Primary School Closes Class Owing to Monkeypox

Exclusive: English Primary School Closes Class Owing to Monkeypox
Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive and negative" are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)
Owen Evans

A primary school class in England has been closed until the end of term, owing to an outbreak of monkeypox in what appears to be a first in London.

The Grand Avenue Primary and Nursery School, in Surrey, told parents in a letter seen by The Epoch Times that their child had been in contact with someone with monkeypox. The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed this.

Precautionary Guidelines

In a letter, the school said that "we have been assured that there is an extremely low risk to our community" and that it was following all precautionary guidelines from public health which includes closing the reception classes until the end of term."

Pupils in reception are usually aged between 4 and 5.

The school apologised that this is very short notice but they only received this advice from the UK Health Security Agency and are "obliged to follow these precautionary guidelines."

The London health protection team of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it has worked with the school and local authorities to undertake a risk assessment and is advising precautionary measures.

This includes their child being offered the vaccine and the child being asked to stay at home and not come into school for the remainder of the school term.

Authorities told parents to monitor their child for any symptoms up to and including July 28, 2022.

It added the recommendation to postpone any non-essential health care appointments (e.g. dentists, non-urgent medical appointments) and avoid attending these settings. Try to avoid very close contact (e.g. hugging) with friends/family.

"These measures are precautionary but are important for the health and safety of your child and family, the wider school community, and anyone else that your child may have contact with, even if the risk is low," they wrote.

Siblings are classed as secondary contacts and can continue to attend school as normal.

Louise Bishop, consultant in health protection at the UK Health Security Agency London said, "We're working with Kingston Council to provide public health advice to Grand Avenue Primary and Nursery School following a confirmed case of monkeypox in the school community.

"When cases of monkeypox are identified we rapidly investigate and carry out detailed contact tracing to assess who may have come into contact with them and what their contact was.

"Following our risk assessment, the appropriate health information and advice is provided to the contacts so that they know symptoms to look out for and what action to take, such as self-isolating, avoiding contact with those at increased risk of severe illness and vaccination.

"Any parents concerned with unusual rashes or blisters on any part of their child's body should contact NHS 111, whilst adults can contact NHS111 or their local sexual health service. Both adults and children should avoid contact with others until they receive advice.

Early in July, Stockport Council announced that a case of monkeypox was identified at Thorn Grove Primary School and contacted parents advising them that some children at the school should remain home until July 15.


The UKHSA has said that the majority of the cases identified to date have been “among men who are gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men.”

The disease, first found in monkeys, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact, including sexual intercourse, and is caused by the monkeypox virus.

The virus is usually found in west and central Africa.

Symptoms are generally mild and the illness is spread through close contact with someone already infected. Most people recover within a few weeks.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that British health officials say there have now been 1,735 confirmed cases of monkeypox and that three-quarters of those cases are in London, according to data released on Tuesday.

The UKHSA said the number of cases and countries identifying monkeypox “continues to increase steeply,” saying that infections beyond Africa have also been primarily seen in gay and bisexual men. It said there had been three cases of monkeypox in children, who are more likely to suffer serious disease.

Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.
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