Infection Prevention and Control

Infection prevention and control for Early Learning Services and Kohanga Reo

Infectious diseases such as Giardia and Norovirus can spread through Early Learning Services (ELS) quite rapidly. This is because of the close contact between people and the under-developed hygiene habits of children.

There are several steps that can be taken to help prevent the spread of infections.

  1. Encourage children to wash their hands after using the toilet, after blowing their nose, after playing with animals, and before they eat. Hand-washing is the best way of preventing the spread of many diseases.
  2. Keep children away from the ELS while they are sick. No-one suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should attend an ELS.
  3. Thorough cleaning needs to be carried out on a regular basis with an effective cleaner and a sanitiser.

To protect other children who attend childcare centres, children and staff suffering from vomiting and/or diarrhoea should not attend their ELS until they have been free from symptoms for 48 hours, unless the vomiting is known to be caused by a non-infectious condition such as car sickness.

Health Protection Officers can provide expert advice on how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases - call 0800 221 555.


Best practice on when to use the 48-hour standdown guidance for gastroenteritis symptoms in Early Learning Services

Gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as 'gastro', is a general term for diarrhoea and vomiting triggered by an infection and inflammation of the digestive system (gut).

How is it spread?

Gastroenteritis caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites can be easily spread from person to person, especially if hygiene is poor, for example if someone who is ill prepares food for others without washing their hands. This is why it is important to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before preparing, handling or eating foods.

Extra care must be taken when cleaning up faecal or vomit matter or items contaminated with these materials. Thoroughly clean and disinfect toilet and bathrooms areas after use.

Children and staff can be in close proximity to one another in ELS so there is an increased likelihood of spread and could lead to an outbreak.

What is an outbreak?

An outbreak is a localised increase of disease in a population that has two or more cases linked to a common source, event, or institutional settings (like ELS). For example, if two students in an ELS become unwell with diarrhoea within a day of each other and they were from the same class then this would be described as an outbreak.  

How to stop the spread?

One of the primary preventative actions that ELS and parents can do to prevent further spread is to stand down staff and/or students for 48 hours after their last gastro symptoms.

Read the process from Toi Te Ora Public Health on when to use the 48-hour standdown guidance for gastroenteritis symptoms in ELS.



The Ministry of Health recommends that children are immunised.

While parents may choose not to have their children immunised against any or all of these illnesses, ELS are required by law to hold a register which clearly identifies the immunisation status of all the children. This is to help protect children in the event of a disease outbreak in the ELS. Health Protection Officers and the Medical Officer of Health must be able to access the immunisation register at any time. 

Links to registers: