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Waikiki senior living facility closes kitchen after norovirus outbreak sickens 40 people

Kalakaua Gardens, a senior living facility with 167 residents in Waikiki, shut down its kitchen today following at least 40 suspected cases of norovirus, which resulted in one hospitalization.

Most of the residents and employees who have been affected have had nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, said Tom Eustace, director of sales and marketing at Kalakaua Gardens, which has 170 employees.

The highly contagious illness can be contracted by consuming contaminated food or water, coming into direct contact with an infected person, or touching contaminated surfaces.

Peter Oshiro, the environmental health program manager with the state Department of Health’s Sanitation Branch, confirmed two cases of norovirus after one resident reported the illness on March 23 and a worker fell ill two days later.

Health officials said the facility’s kitchen closed voluntarily today “to begin the disinfection process of the food preparation area” and plans to reopen Friday.

The company is assessing all food service employees for symptoms before they are allowed back to work, and is bringing in meals from another licensed facility for the residents, according to the department, whose staff will inspect the kitchen before it can reopen.

Eustace said there were no food-related issues found, but the company decided to close the kitchen as a precaution.

“We’re going to be working throughout the night to get every corner, every inch, every part of our kitchen and dining areas completely clean,” he said. “We’re looking to go back to normal very shortly.”

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