North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is lifting the temporary suspension of all routine visiting at the Cumberland Infirmary today (Wednesday 1 February) in all areas with the exception of Beech A&B and Maple D wards following a norovirus outbreak.
The temporary ban on visitors has allowed the situation to be brought under control with all but three wards now open. Fewer visitors to the hospital have prevented the virus spreading and allowed staff to deep clean the affected areas.
Norovirus is still circulating widely in the community this winter and patients at the hospital are still at risk of contracting the virus if visitors with symptoms come into the hospital to see their friend or relative.
The Trust is still appealing to anyone planning to visit its hospitals to stay at home if they or their family members have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last two days. This request is designed to keep norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, out of the hospitals and away from vulnerable patients and staff who could pass it on.
The Trust is currently keeping the temporary visiting suspension on Beech A&B and Maple D wards as there are still a number of cases of norovirus on these wards. If a relative or friend of a patient on one of those wards are concerned, they should contact the ward directly.
Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and, just like flu, the virus can seriously affect vulnerable patients.
Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly anywhere that people are gathered, such as schools or offices, especially during colder months.
Clive Graham, director of infection prevention & control at the Trust, said: “The Trust brought in these measures to ensure the safety of our patients and staff. The levels of norovirus have dropped significantly throughout the hospital due to restrictions and I would like to thank our patients and visitors for their co-operation.
“We know that many visitors feel they must take every opportunity to visit sick friends or relatives, and understand how difficult this must have been. We didn’t take this decision lightly but the more people who pass through our hospitals, the greater risk of the virus spreading, affecting more vulnerable patients and hospital staff.
“I would like to remind people if you have had norovirus yourself, please stay away until you have been symptom-free for at least two days.”
Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of the infection and there are some simple steps that the public can take to help stop Norovirus spreading:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food. If you’re in an NHS facility, pay attention to hand hygiene notices such as using hand gel upon entering and leaving a ward.
- Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with norovirus. It is best to use a bleach-based household cleaner. Always follow the instructions on the cleaning product.
- Flush away any infected faeces or vomit in the toilet. You should also keep the surrounding toilet area clean and hygienic.
- Wash any clothing, or linens, which could have become contaminated with a norovirus. Washing with hot, soapy water will help to ensure that the virus is killed.
- Although people usually recover without treatment in 24-72 hours, it is important to stay away from work, school, college or any social gatherings until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
If you have norovirus, the best thing you can do is rest, and drink plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.