Fifty children and staff members from a Leeds school have been taken to hospital in Belgium after falling ill on a visit to first world war sites, The Guardian reports. Reports said pupils and staff were suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea and had been taken to seven different hospitals with assistance from the Red Cross.
The students from Guiseley school in Leeds apparently became ill as they approached the Zeebrugge ferry terminal on their way home from a GCSE history battlefields trip in France and Belgium. The year 11 pupils are aged 15-16. Leeds city council said 80 students were on the trip, accompanied by eight staff and two drivers, of whom 46 pupils and four staff members were taken ill. The hospitals discharged 23 pupils after checkups, and the remainder are expected to be discharged later on Tuesday.
It is still unclear whether the illness was caused by a virus or food poisoning but it is not believed to be contagious. Those who were not taken ill were initially quarantined in the ferry terminal before being transferred to a youth hostel, with extra school staff sent to look after them. Those well enough will return to the UK on Tuesday night.
A video on the Belgian website Het Laatste Nieuws showed numerous ambulances with flashing lights outside the P&O ferry terminal, and medics transferring a patient on a stretcher into one of the vehicles.
Paul Clayton, acting co-headteacher of the school, said in a statement: “Whilst travelling back from a school trip to Belgium and France, a number of our staff and children were taken ill. Both children and staff have been checked by doctors and while their conditions are not thought to be serious or contagious, as a precaution, they were kept in hospital and monitored overnight.
“Our first priority is always the safety of our children and we are in close contact with parents and carers. Extra staff from the school have now arrived in Belgium to assist further and, working with the Belgian authorities, we are hopeful that the children will be returning home tomorrow. We will continue to … keep a close eye on all the children in the upcoming days.”