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A fourth function has been linked to a gastro outbreak at an Albert Park wedding venue, with the number of people who have fallen ill topping 200.
The Victorian Department of Health said in a statement on Wednesday that 26 people had reported gastro symptoms after a wedding at The Park restaurant on Friday, while another 40 people who attended a wedding on Saturday were also unwell.
The Park restaurant will not operate for the next two weeks.Credit: Simon Schluter
The Age reported on Tuesday that The Park had voluntarily closed for a fortnight after a third event over the weekend was linked to a gastro outbreak that hit two functions on September 13 and 16.
The Health Department update revealed that two weddings, rather than a single event, were linked to gastro outbreaks over the weekend.
“We have been notified of a number of people feeling unwell after attending events at The Park Melbourne on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 September,” a department spokesperson said.
“We’re continuing to work with Port Phillip Council and South East Public Health Unit to investigate the sources of the outbreaks and ensure all appropriate infection prevention and control measures are in place.”
At least 216 people have reported gastro symptoms following three weddings and a dinner at The Park over the past fortnight, according to the Health Department.
First, 70 people fell ill – with several admitted to hospital – after a dinner on the second night of the annual Australia and New Zealand Burns Association conference on Wednesday, September 13 at the Albert Park venue.
Eighty people reported gastro symptoms following a wedding at the same venue three days later on Saturday, September 16. The Park was permitted to continue operating despite health authorities launching a probe into the gastro outbreaks.
Then 26 people fell ill after a wedding on Friday, September 22, with another 40 people reporting sickness after a wedding on Saturday, September 23.
Four events are now linked to a gastro outbreak at The Park.
The Health Department said norovirus – a common and highly contagious form of gastro – had been identified as the pathogen that caused the first two outbreaks.
On Wednesday, the department confirmed early symptoms and epidemiological patterns suggested the same pathogen caused the most recent outbreaks.
The Park venue manager Bahaa Harb said on Tuesday that the decision this week to close had been voluntary and was not at the request of the Health Department.
Deep cleaning was conducted at the venue on Monday, September 18 after the first two events. On Tuesday, the Health Department said Port Phillip Council instructed a second deep clean after the two recent outbreaks “as per council and department requirements”.
The Park has previously said it was “deeply saddened” by the gastro outbreaks and has stressed they are still being investigated and may not be linked. The venue was contacted for further comment on Wednesday.
When asked on Friday about procedure for allowing the venue to remain open after the earlier cases, a spokesperson for the health department said The Park had undertaken cleaning in accordance with its guidelines for the investigation of gastroenteritis and to the satisfaction of the City of Port Phillip.
With Alex Crowe
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