STUDENTS are being sent home from Malvern College following an outbreak of Swine Flu at the prestigious school.

The first case of the virus was confirmed on Tuesday and the number of cases has now risen to six, with potentially 10 cases pending.

The 630-pupil school has been working with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) all week. The decision to send all students who are not sitting public examinations home was taken after a meeting this lunchtime. Pupils have been told to stay away from the school for at least 10 days.

Earlier in the week the college adopted a “business as usual” approach, with enhanced surveillance and infection control and the anti-viral ‘Tamiflu’ being administered to students and staff.

Headmaster Anthony Clark said there was a significant shift today and the HPA advised students were sent home to minimalise the general health risk in the school and the wider community.

He said that, with many students coming from far afield, it could take up to 48 hours for some pupils to return home.

“It is now considered to be in the best interests of all our pupils, including those taking very important public examinations, that we should follow this course of action,” he said.

The school’s prep site in Colwall has also sent its 314 pupils home. Although there are no confirmed cases the site is waiting on test results from one pupil and one visiting music teacher.

Headmaster Alastair Ramsay said the HPA had recommended the action as a precaution.

“We were advised to follow suit with the college as we have very close family links,” he explained. “The school will probably be closed for seven to 10 days.”

A pre-prep open morning and Montessori open afternoon scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) have been cancelled.

Of the six cases confirmed five are in students and one in a member of staff. All those who are currently infectious or are awaiting test results are being prohibited from using transport until they are cleared or seven days have passed from the onset of their symptoms.

Worldwide the swine flu virus continues to spread, and the World Health Organisation has today declared a global flu pandemic after holding an emergency meeting.

Swine flu has now spread to 74 countries after first emerging in Mexico during April. Official reports say there have been 28,000 cases globally, with 141 deaths.