Another Mass Food Poisoning Incident, This Time Affecting 230 Students In A Primary School

Image: Google Maps

Not again, darn it. 

Pretty sure that would have been on the minds of Ministry Of Health (MOH) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) officials as the third case of mass food poisoning this month hit the nation last week.

According to The New Paper (TNP), 230 students from Zhenghua Primary School were struck by gastroenteritis last Wednesday (17 April) and Thursday (18 April).

According to a joint statement by MOH and SFA, the incident is now under investigation.

Joint Inspection

A joint inspection of the school premises was carried out on Wednesday.

Food and environmental swabs were taken for screening and 16 food handlers submitted stool samples.

The affected students exhibited signs of vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

According to the TNP, of the total 230 students, two were severe enough cases to have warranted hospitalization.

90% of the students recovered and returned to school on Monday (22 April).

Image: Tenor

A Case In Point

In an interview with Shin Min Daily News, Ms Liang, 55, a student of a primary 4 pupil, said she spent $120 on medical fees for son, who had to take one day of medical leave.

Her son had apparently vomited at home in the morning but had insisted on going to school to attend a basketball game.

He, however, retched out more abdominal content at about 11 AM.

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Ms Liang was informed of her son’s illness and was requested to take her son to the doctor.

Canteen Temporary Closure

According to Mrs Constance Loke, the principal of Zhenghua Primary School, the school took steps to sanitise the school compound, including “common areas, water coolers, the canteen and the classrooms of the affected students”, according to this Channel NewsAsia report.

The school said the school canteen was shut down on Thursday and was partially reopened on Monday (22 March).

It said the canteen would be fully opened next Monday.

In the meantime, the school has made arrangements to cater for students’ meals by engaging a licensed caterer to bring in packed food during recess and lunch times.

Gastroenteritis 

According to MOH:

Gastroenteritis, is a condition characterised by the inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It can be caused by infection with bacteria, parasites or viruses, such as norovirus, rotavirus, sapovirus or astrovirus.

Infection due to viruses; is called viral gastroenteritis, and is also commonly known as “stomach flu”. The most common cause of acute viral gastroenteritis is norovirus.

Previous 2019 Cases

It’s only nearly 5 months into 2019 but we’re now hearing about plenty of mass food poisoning cases in Singapore.

In early April, 22 students from Ridge View Residential College at the National University of Singapore (NUS) fell ill after consuming food from the accommodation’s halal food counter.

Last week, five students from Prince George’s Park House, also at NUS, developed symptoms of gastroenteritis, after consuming food from a stall at the canteen in Prince George’s Park Residence.

These series of food poisoning occurring at educational institute continues the trend which saw 251 people falling ill from across 13 PCF Sparkletots centres islandwide in March.

In February, 30 students suffered gastroenteritis symptoms at MindChamps pre-school in Tanglin.

So students, study hard, but eat well and maintain good hygiene too where and when possible.