A massive gastro outbreak on the Gold Coast continues to grow with 20 facilities now impacted over the last two weeks.
Gold Coast Public Health says 11 childcare centres, six schools and 3 nursing homes are now affected.
At least 240 children have fallen ill as well as a number of others across the schools and aged care facilities.
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Gastroenteritis is generally caused by viral, bacterial or parasitic infections.
It causes inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestines which leads to symptoms including diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea.
Gold Coast Public Health Unit Medical Director Andre Wattiaux said they had no plans on shutting down any facilities at this stage in a bid to contain the virus.
“We always try not to close childcare centres during these outbreaks,” Dr Wattiux said.
“Closure of childcare centres is usually a last resort measure that sometimes we have to take.
“But overall we can contain outbreaks within childcare centres by working closely with the childcare centre management staff.
“That includes having thorough cleaning regiments and also advising people that are sick to stay home and stay home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have resolved.
However, he did warn it was possible for the virus to continue spreading.
“These viruses can be very infectious and can transmit very easily,” Dr Wattiaux said.
“The best way to try to break the cycle of transmission is to have regular, thorough handwashing with soap and water.
“We’ve been encouraging people to wash their hands very regularly since the beginning of the pandemic and I appreciate it’s tough that it’s always the same message.
“But we know we can contain outbreaks of gastro with regular thorough handwashing of around 20 seconds at the sink .. with soap and water.”
Dr Wattiaux also said it was important for people to know that stand hand sanitiser wasn’t enough to kill off the virus.
“A number of people are not aware that alcohol-base hand wash doesn’t kill all the viruses,” he said.
“One of the common viruses that gives Gastroenteritis is Norovirus and that’s not killed with just alcohol-based hand wash.
“Washing your hands with soap and water is really important, continuing hand hygiene with the alcohol-based one as well.”