The prestigious Southport School based on the Gold Coast in Queensland is set to end the current school term three days early following a recent norovirus outbreak that’s already affected over 400 students and staff.
The school, which teaches both day pupils and boarders, will close on March 23rd to allow time for a ‘complete and thorough antiviral clean’. This is deemed necessary as new cases of infection continue to arise five weeks after the start of the outbreak.
The first signs of an outbreak began in February, when deputy headmaster Andrew Hawkins told parents that the virus had been hard to contain and advised affected students to stay away from the school.
“Despite extra cleaning and excellent support from the boys in terms of hygiene, the airborne nature of the virus is making it extremely hard to contain,” he said.
“They must not return to school for a full 48 hours after the last vomit or episode of diarrhoea. This is an isolation period to ensure they are free of the virus.”
Commonwealth games concerns
The school is set to be a key residential base and training venue for security guards and officials during the upcoming Commonwealth Games, raising even more concerns about the un-contained virus.
Officials are particularly wary of norovirus following an outbreak at the recent Winter Olympics which caused over 200 people to fall ill. In this outbreak, most people affected were security officials which resulted in the Korean army needing to draft in military personnel to replace the missing workers. Two Swiss skiers were also affected by the outbreak.
What is norovirus?
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can be spread through contact with infected faeces or vomit, person-to-person contact, through contaminated food or water or through touching a contaminated surface.
It’s one of the most common causes of food-borne illness in Australia. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. Whilst most people recover quickly and don’t need medical intervention, it’s best to stay away from others if you have the virus to prevent spreading it to others.
The best way to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with anyone who may have come into contact with the virus.