tragic loss | 

Tributes paid to ‘bright and talented’ Belfast girl (5) who died of Strep A infection

Stella-Lily McCorkindale’s school, Black Mountain Primary School, said her death was a “tragic loss to our school community.”

Stella-Lily McCorkindale (Pic: GoFundMe - link in article)© eyJpdiI6IlBrY1VuUDA4NGVUTGJmaDBi

Kurtis ReidBelfast Telegraph

Tributes have been paid to a five-year-old pupil from a west Belfast primary school who died from a severe case of the bacterial infection Strep A.

Stella-Lily McCorkindale’s school, Black Mountain Primary School, said her death was a “tragic loss to our school community.”

"Sadly, the governors, staff and students of Black Mountain Primary School have been informed of the untimely passing of one of our P2 pupils, Stella-Lily McCorkindale,” read a post.

“This is a tragic loss to the Black Mountain Primary School family and our school community, and the thoughts of the entire school are with the Stella-Lily’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time.

“Stella-Lily was a very bright and talented little girl and very popular with both staff and children and will be greatly missed by everyone at school.

“To assist in supporting our pupils and staff at this sad time, additional trained staff from the Education Authority Critical Incident Response Team have been engaged and will be providing support to the school.

“We recognise that this news may cause worry amongst our school community and we want to reassure parents that we continue to work closely with the Public Health Agency at this time.”

A fundraising page has been set up in support of Stella-Lily’s family and in under 24 hours, had raised over £5,000.

According to BBC News NI, the schoolgirl died after spending a short period of time in an intensive care unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

On Friday, the Public Health Agency sent a letter to parents of P1 to P3 children at the school to inform them a pupil had been diagnosed with a severe case of Strep A.

Black Mountain Primary School, west Belfast (Photo credit: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye)

SDLP MLA for West Belfast, Paul Doherty said there has been an “outpouring of grief across the area" following the news of Stella-Lily’s death.

“This is a devastating loss that has been felt throughout our community and we have seen a huge response to support the family affected,” he said.

“I’m on the ground in this area every day and there is a real sense of disbelief that this has happened, particularly at this time of year when so many families are looking forward to Christmas with their children."

Speaking in the House of Commons, DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson encouraged co-operation amongst Public Health Agencies across the UK and called for greater resources to be made available.

“The commitment that antibiotics are available is welcome, but we know dangers that Strep A can pose. Tragically it has taken the life of a young girl who was a P2 pupil at Blackmountain Primary School. Everyone’s sympathies will be with the family dealing with this heart-breaking tragedy,” he said.

“It is important in tackling any incidences of Strep A that resources available where they are needed and for our Public Health Agencies to work together across the UK.”

In a statement, Northern Secretary for the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation Gerry Murphy said he wished to send his “condolences to the parents and family of Stella-Lily, and to the pupils, staff and wider school community of Black Mountain Primary School at this very difficult time.”

“It is vitally important that all schools are immediately provided with the pertinent advice from the PHA and the employing authorities in identifying the symptoms and the appropriate actions that need to be taken to protect pupils, staff and school communities to prevent further tragedies related to this current outbreak.”

On Monday, the school principal at Brackenagh West Primary School near Kilkeel said that two children had been hospitalised with the infection and “dozens” of pupils had symptoms of the infection.

It has also been confirmed the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland is investigating the death of a four-year-old child which could be linked to the invasive form of Strep A. It’s understood the child is from the north east and Dublin area health region.

Earlier this week, health officials in England confirmed a child from St John’s School in Ealing, west London, had died from the bacterial infection, while the parents of a four-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire confirmed he had died from Strep A.

A child at a primary school in Penarth, near Cardiff, has also died.

Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) is a bacteria which can cause many different infections. Symptoms can be found on the throat and on the skin, and effects children more seriously than adults. It can be treated with antibiotics and severe cases are rare.

Strep A can develop into scarlet fever, which can cause flu-like symptoms, a high temperature and a rash.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has said the number of cases of scarlet fever in Northern Ireland had been rising in the "past few months.” However the agency is asking parents to be vigilant.

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