More than 70 students and residents across Phuket fell victim to an unpleasant dose of diarrhoea yesterday. The Phuket Provincial Public Heath Office suspects the cause of this distressing episode could be attributed to the drinking of contaminated drinking water and ice procured from nearby factories.
It is believed that a stomach bug, possibly the notorious norovirus, managed to infiltrate the local water supply, leading to this widespread discomfort experienced by the affected individuals.
ThaiRath reported that hospitals, both public and private, throughout Phuket were inundated with patients suffering from severe diarrhoea. The majority of cases originated from the Mueang and Kathu districts within the province.
In response to the outbreak, the Phuket Provincial Public Heath Office anticipated that the norovirus was spread through drinking water and ice. Several drinking water and ice factories in the province were investigated but no virus was detected in any of these places.
The office urged locals and tourists to consume only freshly cooked food and frequently wash their hands. The authorities explained that norovirus can be transmitted through the consumption of food and drink and inhalation.
Several schools in Phuket were closed today for a thorough cleaning. The classroom, bathrooms, and all of the equipment are to be disinfected for the safety of students. The students were also urged to bring their own drinking water from home during the rainy season when the spread of norovirus is more common.
The deputy director of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Hospital, Bancha Khakong, recommended locals select fresh ingredients for cooking and consume freshly cooked food within two to four hours to avoid the norovirus.
A similar incident occurred last year, with more than 700 locals and tourists in the central province of Chantaburi in December. Health officials in the province had to handle both Covid-19 and diarrhoea cases at that time. The provincial public health office of the province discovered that it was the result of the norovirus, but the source of the virus was not revealed.
Norovirus is a common cause of gastroenteritis worldwide, which is inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The symptoms of norovirus infection typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and sometimes a low-grade fever. These symptoms usually appear within 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus and can last for one to three days.
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