NUS and SFA investigate latest gastroenteritis incident in student residence, suspends food stall

NUS and SFA investigate latest gastroenteritis incident in student residence, suspends food stall

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) are investigating an incident involving five students from the Prince George’s Park House student residence, who had developed symptoms of gastroenteritis last Fri (12 Apr).

A spokesperson from the University told The Straits Times yesterday (17 Apr) that NUS has carried out preliminary checks after being informed of the outbreak on Mon (15 Apr).

The University’s findings revealed that the students had consumed food from a stall at the air-conditioned canteen at the student residence, while a few of them had also consumed food from dining outlets outside campus prior to developing symptoms.

Stall inspection was carried out on Mon, in addition to a week-long suspension order against the stalls from which the affected students had consumed food.

Additionally, all of the stalls in the canteen were also told to close early that day for thorough cleaning of the premises, ST reported.

On Wed (17 Apr), NUS carried out an independent audit of on-campus dining areas, which is due for completion within a month.

The NUS spokesperson said that “regular hygiene audits are conducted for all dining facilities serving NUS’ on-campus accommodations, as well as food and beverage outlets within the Kent Ridge and Bukit Timah campuses”, according to ST.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for SFA said that the five affected students had recovered as of Wed noon, and none of them were hospitalised.

NUS residential college gastroenteritis outbreak earlier this month marked second incident in a fortnight since PCF Sparkletots case

Earlier this month, 22 students residing at the Ridge View Residential College of the National University of Singapore (NUS) were hit by a gastroenteritis outbreak on 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 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 4 Apr.

NUS noted at the time of the report 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 4 Apr.

Following the incident, residential assistants at Ridge View had asked the students 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 2 Apr, 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.

The outbreak at Ridge View Residential College was the second of its kind in two weeks, following the 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 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.

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