NSW Health issues warning for Sydney services as gastro cases spikes
New South Wales Health is urging parents and carers to keep young children at home if they display any symptoms of viral gastroenteritis amid a rise in cases across early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.
Dr Richard Broome, NSW Health Executive Director of Health Protection, said gastroenteritis is highly infectious, noting that reports of the illness in October were “significantly higher than usual”.
During October more than 50 outbreaks were reported to the Department, with over 480 children and 120 staff affected. Levels have remained high throughout November, Dr Broome said.
Services are encouraged to work with educators and children to ensure they are washing their hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before handling and eating food, after using the toilet, changing nappies or assisting someone who has diarrhoea or vomiting.
Additional attention should be paid, the Department said, to cleaning all hard surfaces and providing education to help prevent the spread of infections. Surfaces should be disinfected with a freshly made sodium hypochlorite solution.
Staff should also wear gloves and a mask when cleaning up bodily fluids, including vomit, when symptoms commence at the centre.
Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches. They can take up to three days to develop and usually last between one or two days, sometimes longer.
The main treatment for viral gastroenteritis is to rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Infants or children in childcare or school who develop vomiting or diarrhoea should stay at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped, as should staff members and anyone whose work involves handling food or looking after children, the elderly or patients.
For more information about gastroenteritis in early childhood settings, please see here.