CHINA / SOCIETY
30 students in East China school sickened in latest norovirus outbreak
Published: Nov 15, 2020 03:01 PM

norovirus Photo: CFP

A round of norovirus infections hit a middle school in East China's Fujian Province, affecting about 30 students and prompting the school to suspend classes for two days. There have been multiple outbreaks of norovirus reported in schools or kindergartens over the past month in China. 

On Friday, a resident of Fuzhou, capital city of Fujian, told local media outlet Strait News that a number of students in Fuzhou No.40 Middle School have been suffering diarrhea since Tuesday. According to the school, the diarrhea was caused by norovirus infection.

"The students all have meals at school, so we suspect something was wrong in the school canteen," the resident surnamed Chen said. "The school has suspended classes for two days, and the reason given is that teachers were grading exam papers."

The school's principal, surnamed Zhang, told the Strait News that the school was just adjusting class hours, and not suspending classes. Zhang confirmed there had been a concentrated norovirus outbreak in the school. 

"The number of infected students was about 30," Zhang said. "As of Thursday afternoon, all have recovered, except for one student still with mild illness." 

In response to parents' worries over the school's food safety, Zhang said the school's catering is provided by a distribution company through a unified bidding process, and that there is no canteen in the school. He believes that the norovirus infection is an epidemiological problem and has nothing to do with catering. 

"We have had the class teacher explain the situation to the parents, and took the food for testing. The test results turned out fine," Zhang further explained. "Classes are expected to resume on Monday after the school has cleared all risks."

As the number one cause of acute viral gastroenteritis, the highly contagious and sometimes deadly norovirus infects about 685 million people worldwide annually and has increasingly emerged as a public health issue in China. 

On October 29, a number of kindergarten children in Northeast China's Liaoning Province were infected with norovirus, which led to a temporary shutdown of the kindergarten. Earlier in October, a similar norovirus outbreak occurred in a university in North China's Shanxi Province, overwhelming the university's health services. 

Currently, there is no tested norovirus vaccine on the market. In February 2019, Chinese authorities green-lit a clinical trial for the world's first tetravalent vaccine against norovirus. The vaccine, after four years of development, can theoretically prevent 80 to 90 percent of norovirus infections, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Global Times


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