While all attention has been focused on coronavirus, norovirus is also doing the rounds, with outbreaks reported to be three times higher than over the past five years.
Equally contagious and easily transmitted by contact with an infectious person, the ‘vomiting bug’ is the most common cause of gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting). It can also be caught by consuming contaminated food (oysters being the most common) or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.
The illness tends to present itself within 12 to 48 hours, where sufferers will experience sudden vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. It is generally mild and people usually recover fully within 2-3 days; there are no long term effects that result from being infected.
Usually a winter bug, the unseasonal surge has been put down to the lifting of lockdown restrictions and less attention being paid to personal hygiene, such as extreme hand washing. There are also concerns this is just the start of things to come as schools return next month (September) and commuting to work increases.
For hospitality, which is already suffering from staff shortages, this is another hurdle they are going to have to manage, as a common factor in contributing to outbreaks is food-handlers returning to work too soon after illness.
If any of your staff members think they have the norovirus infection, or any other form of gastroenteritis, they MUST be excluded from work and not return until they have been free from symptoms for 48 hours.
This is particularly important given the highly contagious nature of this virus. If staff are ill at work, infection control measures must be introduced to ensure any vomit is cleaned up and the area completely disinfected with a chemical effective against viruses. See our Food Safety courses for more information.
Our team of experts have pulled together a guide to help prevent norovirus becoming a problem within your venues, which you can download below: