AN OUTBREAK of winter vomiting disease caused the closure of a primary school — and now ‘deep cleaning’ is taking place during half-term.

The spread amongst dozens of children of the highly contagious norovirus, led to Highfield Primary School, Chorley, closing four days early for half-term.

Numerous pupils began to show the symptoms of the disease which led to the decision to close the Wright Street school, one of the largest in Chorley, on Tuesday, February 15.

It is believed that it is one the first times a Lancashire school has been completely closed in this way with a county education spokesman saying such measures were ‘extremely rare’.

Head teacher Sue Cornall, said: “I can confirm that I closed the school last Tuesday following a suspected outbreak of the norovirus.

“A number of the children were exhibiting symptoms associated with the virus so, in accordance with standard procedures, I have closed the school and am arranging for the school to be 'deep cleaned'.”

Contractors were called in to the 222-pupil school to clean and disinfect in time for the children’s return after the mid-term break.

The norovirus group of viruses are the most common cause of severe stomach upsets.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

It can last for 12 to 60 hours, but most people recover within two days.

There is no specific treatment for Norovirus, which spreads easily and quickly from person to person and can survive for several days in a contaminated area.

Dr Ken Landen, who works with the Health Protection Agency in Chorley, said: “The virus thrives in contained environments such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools.

“Closing the school would be an effective way of minimising the risk of the virus spreading and thorough cleaning will lessen the likelihood of a reoccurrence.”