Pek Kio Market and Food Centre closed after more than 180 cases of gastroenteritis

Pek Kio Market and Food Centre will be closed for a thorough cleaning and disinfection after a spate of gastroenteritis cases in the Owen Road area. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Pek Kio Market and Food Centre will be closed for a thorough cleaning and disinfection after a spate of gastroenteritis cases in the Owen Road area.

More than 180 cases have been reported in the past week, the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and national water agency PUB said in a joint statement on Tuesday (May 24).

Investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing, but the Pek Kio market will be closed from Wednesday (May 25) to Thursday as a precautionary measure, before reopening on Friday.

MOH said it was alerted last Thursday by a general practitioner at Owen Road, after the clinic witnessed an unusual increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis since May 16.

Further investigations found that other clinics in the area had experienced a similar increase.

In all, more than 180 patients sought medical treatment for symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain in the past week.

The victims typically recovered within a few days, the statement added. Seven patients are warded at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for observation, with all of them recovering well.

Rotavirus gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by a virus called rotavirus, resulting in vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and abdominal pain.

Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by many different viruses including rotaviruses, noroviruses, adenoviruses, sapoviruses and astroviruses. It is sometimes called "gastric flu", although it is not related to influenza.

The four agencies said they had collected food and environmental samples from food outlets in the Owen Road area, as well as interviewed affected cases and screened stool samples from the affected cases.

They found that the majority of cases involved people who lived near or visited the Owen Road area. Many of them had also patronised the Pek Kio market, although investigations did not identify any specific food stall as the source of the outbreak.

During the two-day closure, stallholders and Tanjong Pagar Town Council's cleaning contractor will conduct a thorough cleaning, including the disinfection of all dining tables and chairs, food preparation surfaces, walls and floors.

NEA will also be issuing advisories reminding all stall owners to maintain high hygiene standards of public contact surfaces.

MOH and NEA remind members of the public who have visited the Owen Road area to monitor their health closely. They should seek medical attention early if they experience any gastroenteritis symptoms.

For health-related queries, the public can contact MOH on 1800-2254122. For feedback on any hygiene lapses, call NEA's 24-hour hotline on 1800-2255 632.

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