North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is asking visitors to think twice before coming to see their friends and family in hospital if they are unwell themselves.
The Trust is raising awareness of how quickly norovirus can spread following an outbreak on a ward at the Cumberland Infirmary over the weekend which resulted in both staff and patients being affected.
Norovirus, the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhoea, is a nasty infection for anyone who gets it but can be particularly dangerous for people with other medical conditions. Known as the winter vomiting bug, it affects between 600,000 and one million people in the United Kingdom every year. It is normally a short-lived, self-limiting infection from which people will usually recover within 12 to 60 hours.
The condition is highly contagious unless great care is taken to contain it, therefore hospital staff are asking anyone who feels unwell or who has shown symptoms of norovirus (diarrhoea and or vomiting) within the past 48 hours not to visit patients.
Clive Graham, director of infection prevention and control at the Trust, said: “The norovirus infection is particularly serious when it gets into environments where people live or work in close proximity, such as hospitals, residential care homes, hotels and schools. In hospitals, it can inevitably lead to ward closures as measures are taken to contain the infection and stop it spreading. It can also lead to staff illness and of course it increases the risk to patients who have other serious illnesses.
“However, there are things that people can do to limit the impact so we are reminding people of the measures that may protect our healthcare services from the worst effects of norovirus infection.”
The Trust’s advice to people visiting hospital is:
- Do not visit friends or relatives in hospital if you feel unwell
- If you develop diarrhoea or vomiting, stay away from hospital until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water at the hand wash basins which are provided in every bay and cubicle.
- Use chairs provided – do not sit on beds
- Limit visitors to two per patient and avoid bringing very young children who may be vulnerable to infection