Flu strikes village on Games eve

THREE people are being treated for influenza within the Commonwealth Games Village and are in isolation on the eve of the opening ceremony.

News Corp has been told the medical command centre has received confirmation of three cases of influenza within the village and preventive medication has been given to those in close contact with them.

It is not known whether the flu patients are athletes, team staff or officials.

It comes as the Australian cycling team — which is staying in Brisbane near the velodrome and not in the athletes’ village — took the extraordinary step of briefing its riders and staff by infection prevention nurses from SA Health before they left for the Gold Coast.

“The patients have been requested to remain in isolation until they no longer have symptoms and are being managed in conjunction with the Gold Coast Public Health Unit,” a statement from GOLDOC said on Monday.

“Prophylactic Tamiflu has been provided for athletes that have been in close contact with the patients.

“The MCC would like to thank the teams affected for their swift action in containing the virus.”

Four years ago a gastro outbreak in the Games village in Glasgow caused widespread concern among athletes but it was contained within the workforce and did not involve people who were part of food preparation.

In February Queensland Health said influenza was striking down 32 people per day in the state and 21 had been admitted to intensive care or treatment, which was on the back of one of the worst flu seasons on record.

Cycling Australia high performance director Simon Jones said riders and staff attended a presentation from infection prevention nurses at the Adelaide SuperDrome last week which included a handwashing test to highlight the dangers of spreading illness.

“Sickness is one of those common things in normal life like a head cold or be a bit off, but being an athlete it can have a huge impact on your performance so you’ve got to take every precaution you can.

“It’s about providing that awareness and education because they all know it but it’s a case of trying to implement the knowledge.

“Across the team that’s what we’re trying to do — have experts who have the facts and the team listens to those people.

“Whether it be medical, physio, mechanics, they’re all experts and these infection prevention nurses, that’s what they do.

“Most hospitals have them now because some bugs can kill people so they go through a fastidious process of education and hygiene, disinfection, cleaning, and they patrol the wards.

“We don’t have anyone to do that here but it raises awareness of it. It’s the same messages but driven by an expert which is important.

“It’s almost impossible not to get sick but you can minimise the chances and elevate the awareness as you get closer to major championships and that’s what we do, reduce the risk because travelling is the big one being in such proximity to people.”

CA has given its riders and staff hand sanitiser and has reinforced the importance of washing their hands.

“We did a test to see how good you washed your hands. And it’s actually quite hard to do that properly, you’ve got to wash them significantly because some people just wave them in the direction of the tap and that’s not going to clean them.

“Hand hygiene is the number one defence and so far fingers crossed we are all holding up.

“It’s a small thing but on top of everything else could make a difference.

“We’re not in the village but we are in a hotel so we have to be very careful, but we have our own little area which is like a big marquee which is good.”

reece.homfray@news.com.au

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