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     FrontPage Edition: Wed 15 August 2007

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Update on the Norovirus outbreak at Pioneer Primary School


Update on the Norovirus outbreak at Pioneer Primary School
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has completed investigations into the recent Novovirus outbreak at Pioneer Primary School.
The index case was traced to a food handler who worked at the school canteen on 23 to 25 July while she was symptomatic.
Close working proximity among the food handlers and the sharing of toilet facilities further contributed to the spread of infection.
Norovirus was confirmed in the stool of six food handlers. These findings highlight the importance of good food and personal hygiene. In particular, symptomatic persons should refrain from handling food when they are not well.
The six infected food handlers have been issued orders prohibiting them from working until they are certified free of infection. MOH has also advised the school on the necessary prevention and control measures to avoid future outbreaks.
Pioneer Primary School recorded a total of 147 Norovirus gastroenteritis cases, comprising students, staff and food handlers, during the recent outbreak. The illness is self-limiting and most recovered within 1-3 days. None was hospitalised.
Preventing infection
Noroviruses are highly contagious. They are found in the stool or vomit of infected people.
Observing good hygiene practices is key to avoiding getting infected. Those who have viral gastroenteritis symptoms are advised not to attend school or work until they are well.
The following are some simple steps to reduce the chances of Norovirus infections:
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after toilet visits, changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables carefully, and steam oysters before eating them.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately and thoroughly after an episode of illness by using household bleach in a ratio of one unit to 50 units of water.
  • Remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus immediately 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 who are ill with vomiting and diarrhea should not prepare food while they have symptoms and for three days after they recover from their illness. Food that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be disposed off properly.

Source: Press Release 8 Aug 2007

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