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Published on : Thursday, March 31, 2016
The Department of Health has appealed to travellers and operators of cross-boundary cruise ships to maintain personal and environmental hygiene after nine passengers on board an inbound cruise tested positive for norovirus infection.
They were among 150 people who have fallen ill on the vessel since March 7. Among them, 134 are passengers and 16 are crew. Most have recovered.
The Public Health Incident Assessment Group has been formed by the Department of Health to investigate the outbreak.
Health advice has been given to passengers and the operator. Infection control measures and enhanced training for frontline cleaning staff has also been recommended.
Inbound passengers and crew members have been put under medical surveillance.
Norovirus infection typically causes acute gastroenteritis. It is also a common cause of food poisoning and is usually related to consumption of undercooked shellfish. People can also get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. Norovirus can also cause outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis in settings where people are staying close together such as schools, elderly homes, hotels and cruise ships. The disease affects people of all age groups and tends to be more common during winter. The virus is previously known as “Norwalk-like viruses”.
The disease is characterised by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, low-grade fever and malaise. A person usually develops symptoms 12 – 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. The symptoms are usually self-limiting, most people will get better within 1 – 3 days.
The infection can be transmitted via the following ways:
by food or water contaminated with the virus;
by contact with vomitus or faeces from infected persons;
by contact with contaminated objects; or
by aerosol spread with contaminated droplets of splashed vomitus.