We just knew it, those places are evil… A popular indoor play centre has had an outbreak of norovirus caused by one child’s slippery-dip, um, incident.
My two boys think this is the greatest story I have ever had to cover. When I told them their eyes lit up. It’s about poo – and probably a lot of it. Just the mention of the word had them in hysterics. Laughter till they cried.
Don’t be put off – there’s something in it for you too. (Unfortunately.)
Let me set the scene. It was a birthday party at a play centre. Imagine this: the sugar-buzzed toddlers howling for their mothers, the over-tired preschoolers spinning from excitement and hyper stimulation; the slides, the climbing frames, the grotty balls, the bored parents.
Pre-kids, you swear you will never take your child there. You grimace at the idea of them. One year in and you find yourself on a first name basis with the staff, and you hear yourself telling people that the coffee “really isn’t that bad”. But have you ever really wondered how bad they can be?
The venue was Chipmunks Playland and Cafe in Tawa, New Zealand. It was August last year, and there were ten birthday parties simultaneously taking place. Makes your head spin, doesn’t it? But, sadly, one party guest wasn't too well, and after a “faecal incident” on a slide these parties turned into every parent’s nightmare.
From this one ‘code brown’ over 70 people fell seriously sick with norovirus. The victims - mainly children - rapidly came down with the virus suffering nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, headache and fever.
Parents took to Facebook to slam the centre. "Not impressed - our entire children's party was taken out by this bug," one wrote. To the play centre’s credit, they quickly shut down the premises for two days. But the damage had been done - norovirus strikes rapidly and is highly contagious.
A report into the incident from Wellington Public Health Medical Registrar Andrea McDonald and Medical Officer of Health Annette Nesdale noted the playground had limited ventilation, there was no warning about bringing in sick kids and that there was no policy on vomiting or diarrhoea incidents. However, it did note that after the outbreak the facility was clean. The centre was commended for updating the public on the outbreak on their website and on their Facebook page.