Over 100 sick: Probable Norovirus shuts Toby Carvery in UK

I never knew what a carvery was until I went to the UK in 2010 with Amy and a young Sorenne.

We visited my great-uncle Keith in Newport, Wales, and I drove us to the carvery for lunch, and almost killed us because they drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK and those menacing traffic circles.

long.fin.tuna.apr.15We ate at a carvery the other night while taking a couple of days at the beach: worst meal we ever had, but the line-dancing display by the retirees at Coolangatta was awesome.

This dude (right, exactly as shown) went with a buddy in a plastic kayak to go snorkeling at Cook Island, decided to put his line out on the way (no rod, just a line), and within 10 minutes landed this long-fined tuna off the beach at Fingal Head.

He said sashimi for dinner, frozen steaks for later.

I said, better get that thing on ice.

And then I thought Amy would kill us driving back through Mt. Tamborine. There’s so much within 100km of Brisbane.

A suspected outbreak of norovirus at a popular city pub and restaurant is believed to have affected large numbers of people across the city as well as visitors and holidaymakers.

The Echo has been inundated with reports from people, including children, the elderly and an eight month pregnant woman, claiming to have visited Toby Carvery at the Exeter Arms in Rydon Lane, Middlemoor, between Monday, March 30, and Easter Sunday, April 5, and since becoming ill with sickness and diarrhea for several days.

It is thought the number of people who may have been affected could be in excess of 100.

The restaurant and hotel temporarily closed on Tuesday, April 7, after an investigation led by Environmental Health was launched.

Concerns have also been expressed that the venue failed to close sooner and remained open over the Easter weekend.

amy.mt.tamborine.apr.15A spokesman for Toby Carvery confirmed to the Echo that on Wednesday, April 1, staff became aware that a customer had been suffering from norovirus – the most common stomach bug in the UK.

The spokesman confirmed that a steam clean was subsequently carried out in the restaurant and pub on Thursday after it closed, but normal trading continued over the Easter bank holiday – one of the busiest trading periods of the year.

The spokesman confirmed that on becoming aware of the threat, restaurant officials contacted the Environmental Health department at Exeter City Council, and an officer who visited on Thursday said the restaurant had followed correct safety procedures and could continue to trade.

Environmental Health officers subsequently returned to the restaurant and pub on Tuesday, April 7, after which the restaurant issued a statement on its website announcing the voluntary closure of the restaurant and adjoining hotel until further notice.

Of those affected, one person claimed to have required hospitalisation and countless others reported battling with unpleasant sickness and diarrhoea for many days.

Around 24 staff members at an animal shelter on the outskirts of the city claim to have become ill following a staff meal at the restaurant on March 31, leaving them operating the charity with worrying low staffing numbers.

Will Jennings, from Budleigh Salterton, said he visited The Exeter Arms on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 1, and by the following evening had started to vomit violently every 10 minutes for several hours.

Mr Jennings said he has suffered with a rare autoimmune disease called Behçets Syndrome with neurological involvement for two years and, similar to the elderly and very young, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of any illness, infection or virus which can be a case of “life or death” for him.

He said he had been left “very frail” by the sickness and three more of his party of six were also taken ill with the same symptoms.

Following medical advice, he said he was rushed to hospital by ambulance in a very poorly, semi-conscious state.

“I was suffering substantial pain and dehydration,” he recalled. “I was treated with intravenous fluids, anti sickness and morphine for pain relief.”

Environmental health driven by HR, good people leaving

Scotland has the highest rate of E coli O157 infection in the world and experts are struggling to maintain the fight against the infection.

Prof Hugh Pennington, who has chaired two public inquiries into major outbreaks of E. coli O157, said he was concerned about the number of experienced personnel being lost due to budget cuts, adding,

"Worryingly environmental health now seems to be being driven by HR departments."

Rod House, president of the Royal Environmental Health Institute for Scotland, said many senior officers were taking early retirement as councils seek to reduce their wage bills, yet fewer trainees are being appointed.