Dale Bass of Kamloops This Week (that’s in British Columbia, Canada) writes that when norovirus hit customers at one Greek restaurant in the city, there were headlines with the name of the Victoria Street eatery — and it was shut down for days.
Doug Dick was one of several people who became sick with the virus after eating at Minos restaurant on Tranquille Road in North Kamloops earlier this month. He asked KTW why Minos was not closed, since Dorian’s Greek House in downtown Kamloops was closed in December 2013.
Dick wondered if the reaction to Dorian’s situation came as a result of it being Royal Inland Hospital medical staff becoming ill there, something Joyce Michaud, the Interior Health Authority’s environmental-health officer — and the person who oversees inspections of places like restaurants — said is incorrect.
She said when her team is advised of a suspicious health outbreak, it doesn’t consider the occupations of those who are sick unless there is a direct link.
The focus, Michaud said, is identifying the bug, figuring out where it came from and, if possible, where it is, and helping the facility take steps to eradicate it.
Part of that is ensuring people who need to have medical tests get them done and often, which means delivering the test kits to sick people, Michaud said, rather than asking them to leave their homes.
Dick also wondered why IHA didn’t issue a press release warning people about about Minos.
Michaud noted the IHA didn’t issue a press release about Dorian’s, either. Because RIH operating-room staff becoming ill, a release was sent out advising the public surgeries were being cancelled.
Because the medical staff had not eaten at the restaurant — Dorian’s catered an event for them — the first task was to identify where the virus had come from, Michaud said. Soon there were many more people contacting the IHA with norovirus symptoms and, when it became apparent there was a public-health risk linked to Dorian’s, the restaurant was identified.
With Minos, there was one report on May 4 of someone becoming ill after eating there on May 2. An inspector was sent to the restaurant and, in the absence of any leftover food from that date, reviewed food-safety practices with the staff and told them the facility had to be thoroughly cleaned because the virus could linger on surfaces.
“The next day, we got another call and we called the restaurant again,” Michaud said, noting the IHA did not see it as an ongoing risk to the public since the restaurant had undergone a thorough cleaning.
“With Dorian’s, there was an order issued [to close until it was given permission from IHA to reopen] ,but there was no need for an order at Minos,” Michaud said.
Orders like that issued to Dorian are also posted on the authority’s website at interiorhealth.ca.
While it did confirm the name of the restaurant to people calling the authority to report illness, Michaud said a decision to release a name “is typically done on the basis of ongoing risk to the community and/or where it would aid ongoing investigation by having those at risk contact IH.
“The situation at Minos was not one where it appeared the restaurant was contributing to ongoing illness,” she said.