PUBLIC Health England (PHE) and South Hams District Council are continuing to work together to investigate a number of reported cases of diarrhoea and vomiting, now confirmed to be Norovirus, in visitors and staff at River Dart Country Park in South Devon.

As part of this outbreak and subsequent on-going investigation, the joint decision was made to close the park to allow deep cleaning to take place and reduce the risk to other visitors to the park.

PHE will be asking those affected 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 and should be received in the next few days by visitors to the park.

Dr Sarah Harrison, Interim Deputy Director of Health Protection for the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset PHE Centre said: “Norovirus, which has been confirmed in two of the cases has been causing people to become unwell, and usually 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.

“Norovirus is easily transmitted from one person to another and the virus can survive in the environment. The most effective way to respond to an outbreak is to disinfect contaminated areas, to institute good hygiene measures including hand-washing.

“The temporary closure of the park will allow the staff to perform a deep clean across the site and will help to prevent further cases.”

South Hams District Council’s Head of Environmental Health, Ian Bollans, said: “Since we became aware of the reported illness among visitors to the park, South Hams District Council’s Environmental Health Officers have visited the premises on a daily basis.

“The management has cooperated fully with the investigation which is on-going. We are continuing to work with the park to offer advice on deep cleaning and give further recommendations on precautionary measures to help reduce any future risk to visitors and staff.”

Mark Simpson, Managing Director of River Dart Country Park added: “We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank those who have supported us over the past few days. We are committed to investigating this matter fully and our primary concern is the welfare of all our holidaymakers.

"We therefore apologise for the disruption caused and hope that those who have been affected by the virus feel better very soon.

“We understand that many of you have questions and would like to speak with us, and our team are working hard to deal with individual cases promptly. Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to address your concerns and requests, and your on-going patience is very much appreciated.

“With the cause of this virus is now known to be Norovirus, we have taken the precautionary measure to close and deep clean the park, and have taken on board recommendations from public health experts to ensure that the park will be ready for reopening on Monday 18 August.”