Following the closure of some schools as a precautionary measure, where probable or confirmed cases of swine flu have occurred, the Health Protection Agency would like to provide the following advice for the public. This advice relates to the current situation, while our knowledge of the virus is limited and our strategy is to delay and reduce onward transmission of the illness. Such advice may change as our understanding of the virus improves.
The only people who need to refrain from their normal activities (such as going to school or work) are:
those who have been confirmed as having swine flu;
those who are being investigated as a possible* or probable** case of swine flu (also see second main bullet point below); or
those who have been attending a school where a case is found to have been present and have symptoms of the illness (a possible case).
Anyone who is being investigated as a possible case of swine flu (which means they meet the epidemiological criteria and have symptoms) will be given antiviral medicine and will be asked to stay at home and limit their contact with other people until the test results are available.
Close contacts of probable or confirmed cases (family, friends or otherwise) will be started on antiviral medicine as a precautionary measure but can continue their normal lives so long as they do not have any clinical symptoms.
Children and adults who have no symptoms but have had contact with probable or confirmed cases in social community settings do not need to be excluded from either school or the workplace. They should continue their normal daily routines.
* Possible case: patient meets the epidemiological criteria and has symptoms
** Probable case: patient meets the epidemiological criteria, has symptoms, and results of initial testing suggest swine flu
It is important to remember that flu is usually spread from one person to another when an infected person has symptoms (i.e. coughing and sneezing).
General infection control practices and good respiratory hand hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including swine flu. This includes:
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people.
Cleaning hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
Making sure your children follow this advice.