106 children at pre-school in Paya Lebar experience gastroenteritis symptoms

Among other measures, the pre-school stopped children from going to school if they have a sibling resting at home or is unwell. PHOTO: SUPERLAND MONTESSORI PRESCHOOL SINGPOST/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - More than 100 children at a pre-school in Paya Lebar were reported to have symptoms of gastroenteritis earlier this month.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said on Tuesday (April 27) that they are investigating the incident involving pre-schoolers from Superland Pre-school, which is located at SingPost Centre.

In a joint reply to queries from The Straits Times, MOH and the agencies said that as at April 25, 106 children had experienced symptoms, though all have since recovered and a majority of them have returned to school.

One child was hospitalised and has since been discharged.

ECDA said it is monitoring the situation and working with the pre-school operator to ensure the well-being of the children and staff.

One parent told ST that the pre-school had sent out an alert on April 9 of a "possible acute gastroenteritis situation" and recommended that children experiencing symptoms should stay at home.

ST understands that the school has 218 children enrolled currently.

When contacted, Superland declined to comment.

Following the incident, the school put in measures such as keeping children in their own classes and cancelling indoor playground and outdoor play, as well as English speech and drama lessons.

It also cancelled all birthday celebrations for the month of April, according to updates the pre-school sent to parents that were seen by ST.

The pre-school also stopped children from going to school if they have a sibling resting at home or is unwell, according to an April 13 update.

Another update on April 16 said that the authorities - ECDA, MOH and SFA - had visited the school.

Ms Constance Chen, 41, said that she had heard about the possible outbreak from another parent of a child in the same pre-school as her son's on April 9.

Her friend's two-year-old son threw up 10 times and was taken to the accident and emergency department at KK Women's and Children's Hospital to seek treatment, said Ms Chen, a service manager in the banking industry.

The following day, her friend's second child, who attends the same pre-school, fell ill as well.

"I was very worried because my son had just recovered from pneumonia and had been out of school for 2½ weeks," said Ms Chen, who added that her son did not experience symptoms of gastroenteritis.

"Obviously, after his pneumonia, I was really jumpy and wanted to be cautious and didn't want him to fall sick again so soon, so I withdrew him from school."

She took her son, who is 21 months old, back to school only on April 26, after a week of updates from the school that there were no new identified cases.

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