Muscat: A recent outbreak of gastroenteritis in the Wadi Sahtan area of Wilayat Rustaq was far from serious, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Oman.

“Because of the geographical settings of Wadi Sahtan and the remote location of its villages, outbreaks of gastroenteritis are not unusual in these parts,” an unnamed MoH official told government-owned English paper Oman Daily Observer.

“We have dispatched our team and all necessary resources to assure the local population that the situation is completely under control,” the official further said, terming the outbreak of gastroenteritis as ‘mild.’

“No deaths have occurred to date, with all of the cases brought for treatment to the local health characterised as “mild to moderate,” the official said.

Also referred to as ‘stomach flu,” gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites. The disease typically spreads through contaminated food or water, and contact with an infected person. Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever and chills.

According to the official, efforts to manage the outbreak were confounded by rumours that helped fuel alarm amongst local residents.

“There were wild rumours circulating that a viral infection was behind the outbreak, and that local residents were being prohibited from leaving their villages. Of course, this was completely untrue. We urge the local people not to heed such rumours, and only go by advisories from the local health centre,” he pointed out.

However, he acknowledged that a spike in gastroenteritis cases in the area was detected during the latest outbreak.

“We observed an increase in the number of gastroenteritis cases above the normal trend over the past two days,” he confessed.