Sick staff likely caused norovirus outbreak at Charlottetown hotel

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Cleaning crews work at the Delta Prince Edward after a Dec. 5, 2015 norovirus outbreak at the hotel. 

Staff ill with the Norwalk virus while serving or preparing food were the most likely cause of the recent gastro-intestinal illness striking many guests of a Charlottetown hotel, says the province’s chief public health officer.

However, Dr. Heather Morrison doesn’t think the Delta Prince Edward’s food safety or its handling and cleaning practices are to blame, and doesn’t know of anything the hotel could have done to avoid the outbreak.

The outbreak was associated with three functions at the hotel on Dec. 5.

Illness was reported in 134 guests and 35 hotel staff.

RELATED: Partygoers fall ill after weekend Christmas events at P.E.I. hotel

James Tingley, the general manager of Delta Hotels and Resorts, declined to do an interview with The Guardian, but issued a statement noting the hotel immediately contacted the health department following reports of people feeling sick after attending an event at the hotel.

The statement notes hotel hygiene and cleanliness are taken very seriously.

Following the health department’s guidance, the hotel implemented a “comprehensive process to sanitize the hotel’’.

The hotel also posted signs in the lobby and at the entrance to the restaurant to inform guests about the outbreak.

The statement also extends “heartfelt apologies’’ to those that may have gotten sick after visiting the Delta Prince Edward.

Morrison said the outbreak is not considered over until there have been two 48-hour periods without any illness.

The earliest that could happen is Saturday.

She added Norwalk, also known as norovirus, is a very common source of gastrointestinal illness that is easily spread, especially during the holidays as more social gatherings take place.

Sick people shouldn’t return to work until 48 to 72 hours after symptoms of norovirus first appear.

Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Organizations: Charlottetown hotel, PEI hotel, Delta Hotels

Geographic location: Norwalk

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