Monday, August 15, 2022

Urgent health alert over horror virus outbreak in childcare

NSW Health said the outbreaks in early childhood education centers this month are a 97 per cent increase above the number normally reported in February.

New South Wales Health has issued an urgent alert over a “substantial increase” of gastroenteritis outbreaks in early childhood education centers across the state.

Executive Director of Health Protection Dr Richard Broome said 156 outbreaks of gastroenteritis were reported just this month – marking a whopping surge on the typical rate for February.

“Almost 1,000 children and more than 210 staff members have been affected to date, a 97 per cent increase above the number normally reported for the month of February,” Dr Broome said.

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“NSW Health has notified the directors of NSW early childhood education services to an increase in viral gastroenteritis outbreaks and since then there have been further notifications of gastroenteritis outbreaks across the sector.”

Parents are urged to keep their children at home if they feel unwell as viral gastroenteritis is “highly infectious”.

The virus spreads from the vomit or faeces of an infected person and can happen when cleaning up body fluids, during person-to-person contact, when sharing contaminated objects and occasionally through inhaling airborne particles when people vomit.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches.

The main treatment for the virus is to drink plenty of fluids and rest.

NSW Health issued the following advice for parents and caregivers:

  • Keep children experiencing gastroenteritis home from childcare services and school. Children should not return until 48 hours have passed since their last symptom.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and running water, particularly after changing nappies, assisting someone with diarrhoea and/or vomiting and before preparing food. Alcohol hand sanitiser is generally less effective than soap and water but can be used if these are not available.
  • Immediately and thoroughly clean contaminated surfaces with hot, soapy water and then disinfect the area using a household disinfectant. If possible, disinfect with a freshly made sodium hypochlorite (bleach) solution, prepared according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linen that may be contaminated with stool or vomit (use hot water and detergent).
  • Wear gloves and a mask when cleaning up bodily fluids, including vomit.

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