I read with interest that a group of athletes staying at a London hotel for the World Championships have fallen victim to a suspected outbreak of Gastric Illness/Norovirus.
Public Health England has confirmed that 30 athletes and staff have been struck down with the illness, causing a serious blow to one contender, Isaac Makwala, Botswana’s medal hope, to withdraw from the competition altogether. Makwala is a national hero in his country and was a serious contender for the World Championship 400m Title. He had previously said he was ‘heartbroken’ after learning he could not compete in the 200m event on Monday, despite feeling fit enough to race.
In dramatic scenes, Makwala was barred from the London Stadium just hours before the 400m final. Video footage shows the 30-year-old, not being allowed to enter the stadium.
Initially, it had been thought that the stars were suffering with Gastroenteritis but it is now thought to be an outbreak of the Norovirus. The hotel has commented “We have followed strict hygiene protocols, ensuring that those affected are not in contact with other guests and all public areas have been thoroughly sanitised.”
Norovirus is the most common cause of an upset stomach. Many of our readers of this blog will know it as “the winter vomiting bug” because they’re most likely to catch it during the winter months. However, Norovirus can occur at any time of the year. The NHS estimates that between 600,000 and one million people in the UK are affected by the virus in any one year.
You may become aware of outbreaks of the norovirus in news reports of large groups of people becoming ill, for instance in hospitals, schools or on cruise ships. Outbreaks of norovirus in hospitals usually lead to ward closures and visiting time restrictions.
The main causes of spread of the virus are: –
- Coming into contact with a contaminated person; or
- Consuming contaminated food or drink; or
- Touching contaminated surfaces or objects.
Whilst gastric illness cannot always be avoided, here are my top tips for staying aware of potential risks:
- Good hygiene is the key to lowering the risk of being infected by norovirus and preventing its spread to others.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, particularly before preparing food and after using the toilet
- Wash hands before touching food. Most hotels, in particular the restaurant areas should have hand sanitizer available but keeping a small bottle with you just in case is definitely worthwhile. If you can see food being prepared, check whether staff are wearing gloves.
- Avoid food that has been served uncovered, particularly in a buffet setting. Uncovered food can become easily contaminated and is also open to unwanted guests landing on the food such as flies!
- If you are not sure whether meat or poultry has been cooked thoroughly don’t take the risk! One of the biggest causes of gastric illness is Salmonella caused by eating undercooked chicken.
- Where possible, clean surfaces with a bleach solution, paying particular attention to the toilet and toilet area.
- Clean up any vomit as well as the surrounding area.
- Flush away any faeces in the toilet.
- Wash any clothing or bedding that may have been contaminated.
- If you have developed norovirus, you should avoid contact with others for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have gone.
The main symptoms of Norovirus are diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea. Along with Norovirus, another common cause of gastric illness is food poisoning.
In the unfortunate event that you do become unwell whilst on holiday at home or abroad, and you believe the food served at the hotel in which you stayed was the cause of your illness there is help available. It is recommended that you report any suspected gastric illness to the hotel as soon as possible so that they can take any necessary precautions to prevent further spread. If you are staying in a hotel abroad, you should also notify the Tour Operator Representative relevant to your booking of the symptoms you are suffering.
It is also essential that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Whether it be a visit to a walk- in Centre or your own GP, or if you are on holiday the hotel doctor. You should keep all documentation in relation to any medical treatment you have sought whilst on holiday including doctor’s notes, prescriptions and receipts.
If you are staying in hotel as part of an all- inclusive package holiday it is possible to pursue the Tour Operator for any financial losses you incur as a result of your illness such as doctor’s fees and medication costs, along with compensation for the illness you suffered.
The key to a successful claim is to obtain and retain as much evidence as possible!
If you have suffered an illness abroad, then why not contact Cromptons Solicitors for free legal advice. Cromptons Solicitors is accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and our Travel Litigation team can help you should you need to pursue a claim and our friendly team will guide you through the whole process. You can contact us on 01204 589009 or visit our website: www.cromptonssolicitors.co.uk