This facility had about 270 people on board, corresponding to roughly half the 600 people living and working on the field at the time.
After several people began to feel ill during the weekend, it transpired on the Monday that no less than 19 were affected. The health department and medics were notified, and steps taken to check routines for hygiene, meals and food preparation.
The outbreak was attributed to a norovirus, which had probably been brought to the flotel by an infected oil worker arriving from land.
Normally occurring in November-March, this virus is easily transmitted where many people congregate – in nurseries, schools, hotels, barracks, passenger ships and health institutions.
The measures adopted on Ekofisk were the same taken elsewhere when such an outbreak occurs – frequent cleaning with chlorine-based products and thorough handwashing.
But the disease continued to spread, and the victims had risen to 28 within another two days. The final nine to be taken ill were not sent ashore but kept in isolation on the rig.[REMOVE]Fotnote: NTB, “Minst 17 rammet av magesjau på Ekofisk”, 17 November 2008.
Both the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and the county medical officer for Rogaland (which embraces Stavanger) were notified. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority was also eventually brought in.[REMOVE]Fotnote: NTBtekst, “Fortsatt diaré på Ekofisk”, 19 November 2008.
Port Rigmar could be given a clean bill of health a week and a half later, but not before 49 of its residents had been struck down by the infection.
The outbreak had caused some disruption to routines on Ekofisk. To prevent the infection spreading, no meetings or gatherings were held for just over week. Despite the numbers falling ill, however, normal production had been maintained.
Dispensers for alcohol-based sanitisers have eventually been installed in the canteens offshore so that people can clean their hands before eating and thereby minimise the spread of infection.An end to shared cabinsVessel collision with 2/4 W