A vomiting bug, suspected to be norovirus, has shut the Wahaca restaurant in Canary Wharf and four other London outlets.
Hundreds of customers and staff have been struck down by the illness after visiting the Mexican food chain, founded by MasterChef 2005 winner Thomasina Miers.
Public heath chiefs have launched an investigation after 205 staff and 160 members of the public reported falling ill.
Norovirus is a stomach bug which causes diarrhoea and vomiting and usually lasts a few days.
One customer who fell ill after visiting the Canary Wharf branch told The Standard : “It was horrendous. I felt terrible. It took three days for me to recover.”
Another diner, who visited the Soho branch with her husband, said they became so ill they could not look after their baby.
The company initially closed nine of its restaurants and four remain shut, including the Canary Wharf branch, Soho, Oxford Circus and Covent Garden. Those visiting the company’s website are told: “We’re really sorry but due to unforeseen circumstances we’ve had to close.”
In a statement released on Thursday, November 3 co-founders Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby said: “Last week a number of our staff and customers were struck down by what is suspected to be the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.
“We assessed each case and when it became clear they were not isolated incidents, we got in touch with relevant officials at Public Health England and Environmental Health Offices. In tandem with that, we took our own precautionary measures – voluntarily closing affected restaurants, carrying out anti-viral deep cleaning at all of our restaurants, whether affected or not, and ensuring that any staff member who had reported illness remained off site until their symptoms had ceased for at least 48 hours.”
They said they had done “everything within their power” to limit any risk to customers and staff and would continue to work with authorities to resolve the situation.
They added: “We are incredibly sorry that people have been unwell. In the nine years since we first opened Wahaca we have never had such an unprecedented incident, and we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of how this may have happened.”
Deborah Turbitt, London deputy director for health protection for Public Health England, said the source of the outbreak had not been confirmed.
The NHS advises those with norovirus to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest and call a GP or the 111 helpline if symptoms persist longer than a few days.
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