22 students residing at the Ridge View Residential College of the National University of Singapore (NUS) were hit by a gastroenteritis outbreak on Mon (1 Apr), with one of them hospitalised, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA).
MOH and SFA added in their joint statement on Fri (5 Apr) that investigations are still ongoing regarding the latest outbreak at NUS, and that inspections were already carried out at the residential college’s canteen on Thu (4 Apr).
NUS noted on Fri that barring the hospitalised student, all of the students have since recovered from their gastroenteritis symptoms and resumed going to classes as usual.
The hospitalised student is being closely monitored and is in stable condition as of Thu.
21-year-old Ridge View Residential College resident Arabelle Lim told TODAY that students who were affected by the outbreak had consumed food served at the halal food counter.
Following the incident, residential assistants at Ridge View had asked the students on Mon night and on Tue if they had experienced symptoms of diarrhoea.
A NUS spokesperson told TODAY that the NUS Office of Housing Services was informed about the cases on Tuesday, after which the Office contacted the college’s external dining operator Chartwells regarding the incident.
“The university takes a serious view of this incident. We will continue to closely monitor the condition of the affected students, and work closely with Chartwells and the authorities on this matter,” the spokesperson added.
The residential assistants also assured students that the situation was “under control” and was being “carefully reviewed” by the college, NUS and Chartwells, TODAY observed.
A series of measures taken by the college, NUS and the operator were also listed, including stool testing of dining hall staff members, lab testing of food samples with verification by “a third-party auditor”, and thorough sanitisation of all dining hall facilities.
Kitchens at the residential college have also been temporarily closed as a “precautionary measure”, and meals will be prepared by another kitchen on campus, according to the Office.
NUS outbreak second incident in two weeks, following PCF Sparkletots
The outbreak at the NUS residential college is the second of its kind in two weeks, following the recent gastroenteritis outbreak in several PCF Sparkletots outlets at Sengkang Central which affected 109 preschoolers.
As a result, Kate’s Catering was forced to suspend its meal preparation services at all 11 of the PCF Sparkletots centres “for an indefinite period of time”, TODAY reported PAP Community Foundation (PCF) as saying on Wed (27 Mar).
The gastroenteritis outbreak at the Sengkang Central PCF Sparkletots outlets was the third of its kind since Feb this year.
Previously, 14 PCF Toa Payoh preschoolers were afflicted with vomiting and nausea as a result of a gastroenteritis outbreak, while 31 people were affected by such an outbreak at the Tanglin MindChamps outlet, ST reported.
Last year, 131 cases of gastroenteritis were traced to food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer & Manufacturer for a learning camp, according to ST.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) told ST that it was collaborating with the authorities to study the widespread outbreak of gastroenteritis at the pre-schools, adding that MOH, NEA and AVA, ECDA had issued a food hygiene advisory to all pre-schools on 7 Mar.
“ECDA has also stepped up health and hygiene checks during routine visits to centres where they are advised on food hygiene practices and infection control measures,” said the agency.
TODAY noted that there were also several other high-profile gastroenteritis outbreaks in recent times, all of which took place at the end of last year, including the outbreaks at Tung Lok Millennium, Spize Restaurant at River Valley, and Mandarin Orchard’s Grand Ballroom.