At least 70 people fell badly ill after a “fecal incident” on a slide at an indoor playground sparked a norovirus outbreak.
Public health authorities are calling for stricter measures at indoor playgrounds after the “code brown” at Chipmunks Playland and Cafe in Tawa, when children and adults at 10 separate birthday parties were infected.
One parent of two sick children described the outbreak that struck down 71 people – more than half of whom were children – as a nightmare. Victims suffered vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain after the busy Saturday session.
Others took to the Chipmunks Facebook page to voice their thoughts.
“Not impressed – our entire children’s party was taken out by this bug,” Melinda Jones wrote.
“Good on Chipmunks for being proactive and also telling people,” Karyn Boyle wrote.
In the latest Public Health Surveillance Report, Wellington public health medical registrar Andrea McDonald and medical officer of health Annette Nesdale said an investigation after the incident in August last year found the facility was clean, and there were no food hygiene concerns.
The outbreak was traced to diarrhea left on a slide by a sick child. However, it was noted the playground had limited ventilation, there was no policy on vomiting or diarrhea incidents, or whose responsibility the cleanup was, and parents were not being advised against bringing in sick children.
The Chipmunks franchise had made changes across its 16 playgrounds in New Zealand, 12 in Australia and nine in Indonesia since the Tawa incident, marketing and communications manager Elaine Russell said.