Investigations into gastric flu outbreak in Owen Road area reveal 23 tested positive for virus

The Pek Kio Market and Food Centre was closed for two days for thorough cleaning and disinfection.
The Pek Kio Market and Food Centre was closed for two days for thorough cleaning and disinfection. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Investigations into the rash of rotavirus gastroenteritis (gastric flu) in the Owen Road area, which caused the closure of Pek Kio Market and Food Centre for two days, have revealed that it was a "community outbreak" between May 15 and 28.

In a joint media release issued on Wednesday (June 8), the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health (MOH), Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority and PUB said they had concluded their investigations and that 180 cases were linked to the outbreak.

Of 26 stool samples that were collected from these cases, 23 had tested positive for the virus.

Seventeen patients were admitted to hospital for treatment, although all have since been discharged.

"The number of gastroenteritis cases seen by clinics in the Owen Road area has significantly declined since the thorough cleaning and disinfection of Pek Kio Market and Food Centre from May 25 to 26," the media release said.

 

There have not been further admissions to nearby hospitals, it added.

Meanwhile, MOH's investigations did not implicate any specific event, food premises or stall that could be the source of the outbreak.

On its part, NEA said it would continue to place the food centre under close surveillance, and its officers will check to ensure that stallholders observe proper hygiene and food handling practices.

The release also said that pigeons and rats are unlikely to have contributed to the outbreak, despite earlier speculation by the public.

MOH and NEA have also issued a reminder for the public to wash and sanitise their hands regularly, and to use service utensils while sharing food.

Those with the virus should practise good hygiene to minimise the risk of spreading it to others.