Workers still quarantined in Heather Alpha virus alert

by on November 22, 2012 2:34 pm BST

Five workers remain in quarantine on EnQuest’s Heather Alpha platform in the UK North Sea, with three of them suspected of having contracted the norovirus, better known as the winter vomiting bug, platform operator Petrofac has said.

A spokesman for the UK services company told Upstream that two of the workers were now clear of symptoms but were being kept in isolation for another 48 hours.

The company also admitted the extent of the suspected outbreak on the Block 2/5, licence P242 platform was wider than first revealed, involving more than 50 suspected cases in recent weeks.

“Over the course of the last month 55 personnel have shown symptoms of the virus and have been provided with medical support as required and isolated in designated cabins,” the spokesman said.

Petrofac reiterated that “all reasonable steps have been taken to contain the spread of the virus”, with non-essential staff taken off the platform in a down-man on Wednesday leaving 70 staff on board.

Further mobilisation of personnel to Heather Alpha, 100 miles northeast of the Shetland Islands, has also been curtailed, Petrofac said.

The company is also being advised by doctors and health protection officials in Aberdeen.

The highly contagious – though not dangerous – virus is the UK’s most common form of stomach bug, according to the country’s National Health Service.

Causing vomiting and diarrhoea, it affects between 600,000 and 1 million Britons each year, the NHS said. Most patients recover within a couple of days, according to the service.