VIC issues health advice as gastro cases jump 400% versus long term average
The Victorian Department of Health has issued health advice on the current spate of viral gastroenteritis (gastro) outbreaks in ECEC settings, and schools, after a four fold jump in cases relative to averages of the last five years.
The health advice highlights that this virus is particularly infectious and is spread through person-to-person contact, through the air when a person vomits, and via contact with contaminated items and surfaces.
The advice notes that childcare settings are most vulnerable to spread through “unwashed hands placed directly in mouths or onto touched food or drinks, or indirectly – by touching contaminated surfaces such as taps, toilet flush handles, children’s toys and nappies.”
The advice notes that ECEC services across Victoria are reminded to:
- notify DH of any gastro outbreaks at their service by contacting the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control on 1300 651 160 within 24 hours
- ensure staff and children wash hands thoroughly with soap and running water for 20 seconds
- ensure any person who develops vomiting or diarrhoea remains at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped, and to see a GP for advice and testing if symptoms are severe or persist
“The best defence against the spread of these viruses is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling and eating food, after using the toilet, changing nappies, or assisting someone who has vomiting or diarrhoea,” the advice notes.
It is advised that educators should “supervise and assist young children to wash hands properly” and educators “should also wear gloves and a mask when cleaning up bodily fluids, including vomit, when symptoms commence at the centre.”
While alcohol-based hand sanitisers are recommended to prevent transmission of COVID-19, they are not effective for dealing with many of the viruses that cause gastro with handwashing seen as the primary deterrent for the gastro virus.
The following resources are available for services:
- Soapy Heroes hand washing resources and lesson plans found here
- Better Health Channel – gastroenteritis in children found here
To read the Department of Health’s release please click here.