Viral outbreak closes Kewtown preschool

A Kewtown preschool had to close for five days after almost 30 children there fell ill within days of each other.

The Build A Better Society (BABS) Educare closed on Tuesday November 16 after 28 children showed high fevers, according to the preschool’s manager, Joanne Wilson.

Some of the children had been diagnosed with bronchitis while other diagnoses had referred vaguely to “a medical condition”, she said.

The preschool is funded by the provincial Department of Social Development.

A woman, who did not want her name published, said her cousin’s three-year-old daughter, whom she takes to the preschool every morning, fell ill two weeks ago with a high fever and a cough.

More children at the same preschool had fallen ill a couple of days later, she said.

“Last week Tuesday, we received a letter saying that the creche is closed. We didn’t even know so many children got sick; we didn’t know what happened,” she said.

About 28 children contracted a viral infection at BABS Educare in Kewtown.

Ms Wilson said the creche had been “deep cleaned” on Saturday November 13 and again on Saturday November 20.

She said that she did not know what kind of infection it was because some of the parents had refused to disclose what their children had been diagnosed with when taken to their local doctors, while others had been more forthcoming. However none of the children had been tested for Covid-19, she said.

Children underwent Covid-19 screening when they arrived at the preschool in the mornings, she said. Those that had been sick the night before were admitted if they were better, but if they fell ill during the day, their parents were asked to fetch them, she said.

“This is really beyond our control. We’ve never experienced this before. The children who are sick all have high fevers. I spoke to the doctors who diagnosed the children, and they recommended that we close for five days. Over the weekend, parents informed the principal that their kids are sick so I decided to find out what was going on. The doctor also informed me that a school in the northern suburbs also had to close,” she said.

Provincial Department of Health spokesman Mark van der Heever said that due to patient confidentiality he could not divulge information about a particular person. Asked if any of the children had been tested for Covid-19, he said that on Tuesday November 16 many children had presented with similar flu symptoms at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

“We do not routinely test our children for viral pathogens. However, there were some cases of influenza virus around. One of the children was tested for Covid-19 but was negative, confirming that it was not SARS-CoV2 but most likely another virus,” he said.