MOH, AVA and NEA investigating gastroenteritis outbreak at Tanglin MindChamps pre-school

A joint inspection of the premises of MindChamps PreSchool@Tanglin was conducted on Feb 25, 2019.
A joint inspection of the premises of MindChamps PreSchool@Tanglin was conducted on Feb 25, 2019.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

SINGAPORE - The authorities are investigating an outbreak of gastroenteritis at a Tanglin MindChamps pre-school, the Ministry of Health (MOH), Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement on Tuesday (Feb 26).

Thirty-one people have developed gastroenteritis symptoms as of 12pm on Tuesday, the authorities said. 

Of the 31 people, two were hospitalised but have since been discharged.

In response to queries, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said that it was looking into the incident alongside MOH, NEA and AVA. 

All 30 affected children are either resting at home or have returned to school, while one affected staff member is on medical leave and recuperating at home.

"ECDA is working closely with the operator to ensure the wellbeing of all children and its staff," the spokesman said.

A joint inspection of the premises of MindChamps PreSchool @ Tanglin was conducted on Monday, the authorities said.

The NEA also inspected the premises of the school's caterer on Monday. As part of the investigations, a food handler was sent for stool screening. Food and environmental samples have also been taken for testing.

On Tuesday, Chinese-language paper Shin Min Daily News reported that students at the MindChamps pre-school along Tanglin Road fell ill with symptoms of gastroenteritis last week.

They allegedly fell ill after eating lunch provided at the pre-school and had fever, vomiting and bloatedness.

 
 

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a MindChamps spokesman said that the pre-school operator takes the well-being of its students very seriously and has been working closely with the authorities on the matter.

MindChamps has implemented stomach flu prevention protocols, including cleaning all surfaces daily, he added.

"We would like to assure our parents that the entire centre has stepped up its cleaning and hygiene procedures based on the MOH advisory for prevention of the stomach flu virus."

Earlier this month, 14 children aged between three and six fell ill at the Sparkletots pre-school at Toa Payoh West. They had developed symptoms of gastroenteritis after having lunch at the school. 

Last year, 131 cases of gastroenteritis were reported after consuming food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer & Manufacturer for a learning camp. None of the victims were hospitalised. 

Investigations of the caterer found several hygiene lapses and poor kitchen habits, and the authorities suggested that the outbreak was likely due to ingestion of toxins produced by bacteria in the food.