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     Norovirus outbreak may have affected another two schools

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Source: www.moe.gov.sg Press Release 10 Oct 2006

NOROVIRUS GASTROENTERITIS - SITUATION IMPROVED. MINISTRY OF HEALTH ADVISES CONTINUED VIGILANCE WITH HYGIENE MEASURES

SITUATION IMPROVES

  1. The situation in the four schools has improved and is now under control as there are fewer new cases reported. (Please refer to MOE¡¯s advisory in ANNEX A).

CONTINUED VIGILANCE ADVISED

  1. MOH advises continued vigilance. Students and school staff who are having symptoms suggestive of viral gastroenteritis should not attend school or work until they are well. (Please refer to MOH¡¯s advisory in ANNEX B).

VIGILANCE IN CHILDCARE CENTRES

  1. There have been no reported clusters in child care centres. However, as an added precautionary measure, the Ministry has also advised child care centres to be vigilant against the disease. As the infection can spread easily from person to person, child care centres should implement strict hygiene measures in their premises. They should continue their good practices to provide a clean and healthy environment for our children.

UPDATE ON CASES

  1. As earlier reported, MOH has identified the cause of the outbreak at Stamford Primary School as being due to norovirus gastroenteritis. Norovirus was found in the stool of two cases. Investigations are ongoing.

  2. The majority of the 149 reported cases have recovered fully, 102 received outpatient treatment, four were hospitalised for observation, while 43 self-medicated.

  3. So far, only two schools have had outbreaks of norovirus gastroenteritis. They are the Ang Mo Kio Secondary School and Stamford Primary School. Two additional schools Maris Stella and ACS (Independent) had reports of diarrhoeal illness. MOH is working with MOE on the control measures.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

ANNEX A

MOE AND SCHOOLS TO REMAIN VIGILANT

Although the situation has improved, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will remind schools to remain vigilant and continue taking the following actions as initiated at the end of last week:

  • Intensifying the cleaning regime of school premises in the following weeks until the situation stabilizes. Particular attention will be paid to the cleaning of canteens and toilets.

  • Strengthening canteen hygiene - school staff such as the Administration Manager and the Operations Manager will conduct daily and regular checks on food handling by canteen vendors.

  • Visually screening students, staff, vendors and visitors for their well-being, in particular to look out for symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. If any student, staff, vendor or visitors are unwell, they will be isolated and advised to seek medical attention. Parents of students who are unwell will be asked to take their children to the doctor.

  • Reminding students to heed MOH¡¯s advice on good hygiene to minimize coming into contact with the norovirus.

MOE has also informed kindergarten and special education schools on the precautionary measures that schools are taking.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS DURING EXAMINATIONS FOR AFFECTED STUDENTS

MOE has guidelines in place for schools to make special arrangements to help our students who are unwell, while sitting for national or school-based examinations.

In grading the affected pupils¡¯ examination papers, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) or schools will take into account the circumstances under which these pupils took the examinations. Thus, the MOE and SEAB would like to assure parents that no student will be disadvantaged because of such incidents.

MOE and schools will continue to look into the welfare of the students and to monitor the situation closely.

ANNEX B

INFO ON NOROVIRIOUS

Norovirus gastroenteritis, while a common illness, often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. However, the illness is usually not serious. Most people get better within 1-2 days, and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness.

Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:

  • eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus

  • touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth

  • having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).

  • Intensifying the cleaning regime of school premises in the following weeks until the situation stabilizes. Particular attention will be paid to the cleaning of canteens and toilets.

  • Strengthening canteen hygiene - school staff such as the Administration Manager and the Operations Manager will conduct daily and regular checks on food handling by canteen vendors.

  • Visually screening students, staff, vendors and visitors for their well-being, in particular to look out for symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. If any student, staff, vendor or visitors are unwell, they will be isolated and advised to seek medical attention. Parents of students who are unwell will be asked to take their children to the doctor.

  • Reminding students to heed MOH¡¯s advice on good hygiene to minimize coming into contact with the norovirus.

You can reduce your chance of contracting with norovirus gastroenteritis by following these preventive steps:

  • Frequently wash your hands, especially after toilet visits and changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.

  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them.

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using household bleach in a ratio of one unit to 50 units of water.

  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).

  • Flush or discard any vomitus and/or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.

Persons ill with vomiting and diarrhea should not prepare food while they have symptoms and for three days after they recover from their illness. Contaminated food should be disposed of properly.

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Source: www.moe.gov.sg Press Release 10 Oct 2006

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