Four people from the North Canterbury settlement of Waiau have contracted norovirus over the past two days.
Two adults and two children from three different families are affected.
All are isolated in their own homes.
In otherwise healthy individuals Norovirus, a particularly contagious gastro bug, usually resolves quickly with fluids over a period of a few days. “It can be particularly serious for frail older people and those with weak immune systems.
On the advice of the Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Civil Defence have closed the Welfare Centre and communal kitchen in Waiau.
Some of the cases had visited the Welfare Centre in recent days.
“Although communal kitchens are often a vital part of an emergency response, they can also be the focus of spread of gastro bugs,” said Dr Humphrey.
“The good news is that most households in Waiau now have power and running water so families can cater for themselves at home.”
“This is a timely reminder for every community in North Canterbury that scrupulous handwashing or use of hand sanitize gel is essential to prevent the spread of gastro,” said Dr Humphrey.
If anyone in the Hurunui area needs assistance with accommodation, they should call Hurunui Civil Defence on (03) 314 8816.
“Any food that defrosted while the power was out should now be disposed of. All hot food should be served piping hot, and all fresh meat, seafood and poultry should be kept chilled in the fridge.
“Importantly all water should be boiled before drinking, used for cooking or cleaning your teeth.
“Anyone with any gastro symptoms should definitely keep out of the kitchen,” Dr Humphrey said.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of cleaning your hands thoroughly before preparing and eating food and after you’ve been to the toilet. If you don’t have running water, use hand sanitiser to clean your hands,” he said.
“Anyone with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea should stay home and phone for health advice. Phone your own GP or Kaikoura Health on (03) 319 3500. Your call will be answered 24/7 by a nurse who will provide free health advice.
“I am pleased to report, that to date there have been no reported cases of gastro in the Kaikoura area. This is a credit to everyone who is managing to keep up their hand hygiene despite the trying conditions and lack of water,” Dr Humphrey said.
If you can’t boil water, add quarter of a teaspoon of household bleach to two litres of water and leave to stand for two hours before using.