School told to postpone gathering

THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services confirmed a student of St John’s College in Levuka who died in the beginning of this school term contracted meningococcal disease.

Health Ministry permanent secretary Philip Davies said with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), the ministry had provided advice to the college community on appropriate preventive measures.

“Any death is regrettable, and deaths of young people especially so. While incidents such as this are fortunately rare, they do inevitably occur from time to time and are often unavoidable,” he said.

“The ministry is well-placed to manage the risks they pose and works hard to ensure the population is well-informed and protected.”

Mr Davies said the ministry had advised the school to postpone planned large gatherings of pupils and staff members and sporting activities.

He said the ministry was undertaking a comprehensive vaccination program prior to the August school holidays.

He said there was continuing monitoring of public health activities at the college and providing factual information to the broader community to allay concerns and ensure there is no stigmatisation or discrimination of college students.

According to WHO, meningococcal disease is a severe but uncommon infection that occurs when meningococcal bacteria invade the body from the throat or nose.

At any given time, meningococcal bacteria are carried harmlessly at the back of the throat or in the nose in about 10 per cent of the community.

Although most people who have these bacteria in their throat or nose remain quite well, they are able to spread the bacteria to others, and a few of these people may subsequently become ill.

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