2 childcare centres in Punggol hit by gastroenteritis

The childcare centre at Block 192, Punggol Central.
The childcare centre at Block 192, Punggol Central. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
The childcare centre at Block 175D, Punggol Field.
The childcare centre at Block 175D, Punggol Field. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Two childcare centres in Punggol were hit by gastroenteritis last month.

One of the centres at Block 192, Punggol Central, told The New Paper that five out of 80 children, and five to 10 out of its 25 staff, came down with the illness in the past few weeks.

The centre also said that it was not normal for them to have so many cases, especially since it involved teachers as well.

Most of the staff fell sick over the weekend, so they were not short-handed the following week, it added.

The other affected centre at Block 175D, Punggol Field, declined to comment when contacted.

Both centres are operated by Bright Kids Childcare.

TNP contacted 36 other pre-schools and kindergartens around Singapore. A total of 33 centres said they were unaffected, whereas three centres declined to comment.

NTUC First Campus Co-operative said none of its centres were affected.

When The New Paper visited Bright Kids at Block 175D last Wednesday, four parents confirmed that there were cases of gastroenteritis at the centre. They said a letter was given out by the centre about a month ago.

One parent, who only wanted to be known as Madam Farizah, 39, told TNP that the letter stated that there were 10 to 15 cases of gastroenteritis and the centre was monitoring the situation.

In the letter, parents were also told to pick their child up immediately once they had been informed that the child was unwell.

Madam Farizah, whose six-year-old son was affected, said: “He fell sick for a day about three Fridays ago. He had a stomach ache and high fever. He was very weak.”

Madam Farizah, who works in the retail industry, said: “It was quite disruptive for a working parent like me.

“This incident also led to my husband falling sick about two days later.”

A parent, who only want to be known as Mr Tan, told TNP that his four-year-old daughter fell ill two weeks ago.

Another parent who declined to be named said his daughter was ill even before the letter was given out.

He said: “But the centre was quite prompt to respond to the situation, they cleaned the centre up right after that.”


About gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

CAUSES

It is caused by an infection of certain bacteria, viruses or parasites, such as salmonella and E. coli.

You can get infected from eating contaminated food or liquids, or by touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated, and then placing your hand into your mouth.

The bacteria can survive for significant periods of time on objects such as doorknobs, table tops or children’s toys.

Another way is through direct contact with another person who is infected.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

Generally, children experience more vomiting than adults. Low-grade fever is present in many cases.

Some danger signs are blood in the stools and severe vomiting. Also see a doctor if the abdominal cramps are severe or persistent.

TREATMENT

Gastroenteritis usually ends within three to four days and does not require any specific medical treatment.

Take antibiotics if you have a high fever and prolonged diarrhoea.

The most serious effect is dehydration because of fluid loss from vomiting and diarrhoea. If so, seek medical attention immediately. Drink fluids regularly to offset the loss.

PRECAUTIONS

Food, especially shellfish, should be fully cooked before they are eaten.

Flush or discard any excrement in the toilet and ensure that the surrounding area is clean.

Source: Dr Ng Chung Wai Mark, a family physician and chairman of Infection Control & Infectious Diseases Workgroup at SingHealth polyclinics, SingHealth and Ministry of Health websites — Additional reporting by Joseph Lee