Oct 03, 2013

    300 recruits hit by virus that causes diarrhoea

    SOME 300 recruits at a Basic Military Training Camp in Pulau Tekong were hit by an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting last week.

    The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement yesterday that the soldiers were affected over seven days, but most recovered after one to two days.

    Investigations found that it was likely due to the norovirus, which is usually self-limiting. It is also said to cause gastrointestinal upset.

    The last time the highly contagious norovirus made the news here was in February, when it was revealed that between Dec 26 and 30 last year, 453 out of 1,590 guests at Man Fu Yuan restaurant in the InterContinental Singapore hotel had come down with norovirus gastroenteritis - commonly known as stomach flu.

    The restaurant was subsequently closed from January to February this year.

    The Straits Times reported then that the virus can be transmitted by contaminated food and water, contact with infected people and touching surfaces that contain the virus.

    But for the latest incident, Mindef said tests done on the cookhouse premises and food handlers in the Pulau Tekong camp have ruled them out as a source of norovirus infection.

    Food and water at the camp were also said to have tested negative for the virus.

    As a precautionary measure, common areas have been cleaned and disinfected, and training within swimming pools has been put on hold temporarily, said Mindef.

    The ministry added that commanders have stressed the importance of maintaining personal hygiene to all recruits and staff in the camp.