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Schools could remain shut to prevent swine flu spread

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Some schools could stay closed over the autumn period if swine flu spreads rapidly over the summer holidays, according to official guidance.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) said they ‘cannot be certain what the situation will be’ in the autumn. However, they did say that all schools were expected to open on schedule.

The total number of people who have died in the UK after contracting swine flu now stands at 29.

About 1,000 schools have already recorded cases of swine flu, the DCSF message to schools said, though most of them have not needed to close.

Schools initially closed whenever a case of swine flu was detected in a bid to contain the virus, but the UK is no longer in the containment phase.

The DCSF explained it was looking at the situation on a day by day basis. It said the department would monitor developments over the summer and leave the decision of whether to reopen schools until shortly before the start of term.

A message will be sent to schools in the last week of August informing them of what to do at the start of term. Health minister Andy Burnham is also due to make an announcement updating MPs on swine flu, including the launch of the national pandemic flu service.

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