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River Dart Country Park reopens following Norovirus outbreak

By Herald Express  |  Posted: August 18, 2014

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The River Dart Country Park has reopened after a five-day closure following an outbreak of Norovirus.

The holiday park near Ashburton took the tough decision after working closely with Public Health England to close last Tuesday night after around 90 confirmed cases of people being struck down with the illness.

Around 600 holidaymakers left the park last Wednesday and staff embarked on a deep clean of the site.

Following samples and specimens from the park, Public Health England confirmed the sickness and diarrhoea was caused by Norovirus.

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South Hams District Council’s Head of Environmental Health, Ian Bollans, said: “We have been working closely with River Dart Country Park to provide advice on how to best deep clean the site and control the risk from further viral infections. We believe the park is doing all it can to implement this advice.

“According to the most up-to-date information, the virus will not normally be active outside a host after a 48-hour period has elapsed.

“The site has been closed for longer than this so our advice is that there is a minimal risk of viable virus particles still being present.

“As such, we believe the risk of further infection from the recent outbreak should have been reduced to an acceptable level.”

Over the past five days the site has undergone what Mr Simpson calls “a thorough deep clean.”

Managing director Mark Simpson said: “All buildings, amenity blocks, restaurants, accommodation units have all been deep cleaned. We have replaced adventure playground surfaces, we have cleaned the sand beach and added more sand and cleaned every single piece of play equipment from slides to seats.

“We have had between 30 to 50 staff each day working on it. The whole site was finished 5pm Saturday.

“I want to thank all the staff who have worked incredibly hard. We have had some amazingly loyal customers who have packed up Wednesday and come back today.”

Dr Sarah Harrison, Interim Deputy Director of Health Protection for the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset PHE Centre said: “Norovirus leads to mild diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal or stomach cramps that people recover from quickly. There is no specific treatment, but if affected, it is important to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

“We are now asking those that visited the park on or after August 1 to complete a quick questionnaire in order to establish any common links between those affected. This can help identify how the infection started and spread.

“The confidential questionnaire can be completed online by visitinghttps://surveys.phe.org.uk and entering survey ID: RDCP. The questionnaire is for all adults and children that stayed overnight or were day visitors and if they were ill or not.”

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