Hereford’S Royal National College for the Blind was forced to send a third of its students home this week following an outbreak of swine flu.

NHS Herefordshire’s health protection team was brought in after a number of students developed flu-like symptoms.

Two students were found to be suffering from the virus and a further 36 with similar symptoms were prescribed the drug Tamiflu.

As of Tuesday, absentees had risen to 53 with 44 said to be suffering from different forms of flu.

CEO Principal Ian Pickford said: “In accordance with our risk management policies and disaster recovery plans we are monitoring this situation closely and working hard to ensure affected students are cared for, while educational and other operations are not adversely affected for the rest of our student population.”

Around 150 visually impaired students from across the country attend RNC annually, the majority of whom live on campus during term-time.

Mr Pickford said residential and management teams were liaising with parents, students and doctors to make sure all parties were appropriately informed of developments.

“We are not, at present, considering closing the college,” he added.