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Rumblings of discontent

27 July 2015

It's that time of year when many of us are looking forward to our holidays. Whether you plan to sun yourself abroad in an exotic resort, take the kids to the seaside, pitch up at a music festival or just relax at home in the garden, the summer offers endless possibilities to have fun. Unless you're laid up in bed with an infectious virus, that is. 

It's the last thing you'd expect – norovirus is called the 'winter vomiting bug' because it's more common around that time of year. But it can, of course, be caught any time and anywhere, as holidaymakers who recently embarked on an 11-day cruise experienced first-hand. 


On 17th June, it was reported that hundreds more passengers were struck down with norovirus on board the same Fred Olsen ship that was hit by the vomiting bug the previous month. The original outbreak ruined the eight-day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, prompting those affected to take legal action against the company.


They're not the only case to make the headlines of late. In May it was also reported that almost 200 people have filed a lawsuit against British restaurant chain Toby Carvery following an outbreak of norovirus. 


A quick search on Google before we went to print also brought up a number of stories reporting on the temporary closure of hotels and restaurants up and down the country following norovirus outbreaks. 


At present, business attitudes to infection control – not just in catering and hospitality but across all sectors – vary enormously from the extremely vigilant to those that do the bare minimum. And yet any infectious outbreak can have a significant impact on a business's bottom line, whether this results from staff absenteeism, loss of customer confidence and/or litigation, as Dr. Juncal Caubilla from Diversey Care explains in our new Infection Prevention & Control supplement inside this issue.   


She adds that rigorous preparation – including implementing infection-prevention best practices – is one of our best lines of defence in the face of any outbreak. "The midst of an outbreak is not the time to be playing catch-up," she says. "Instead, a company and its employees should know exactly what their next steps should be."


So while many people will be taking it easy this summer, the work of our industry to raise hygiene standards continues. Cleaning professionals will be reminding businesses not to take their eye off the ball when it comes implementing infection control procedures – or the holiday season could be ruined by more than just the British weather.