North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is asking patients and visitors to help limit the spread of Norovirus this winter. The Trust has seen outbreaks start throughout January due to visitors coming in with symptoms of the virus, people attending A&E who have symptoms and patients who have been in contact with somebody displaying the symptoms.
Norovirus can spread extremely quickly in environments such as hospitals and the impact can be serious. The Trust is asking visitors to avoid coming to see their friends and family in hospital if they are unwell themselves. In addition, the Trust asks that anyone who requires admission to hospital and has been in contact with somebody who has symptoms, please ensure they alert the nursing staff.
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.
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.
“I would therefore ask that anyone who feels unwell or who has shown symptoms of norovirus (diarrhoea and vomiting) within the past 48 hours not to visit patients. If somebody is admitted to hospital please ensure staff are aware if the patient has been in contact with somebody displaying symptoms. In addition, please do not attend A&E if you require treatment for Norovirus.
“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
- If you or a friend/relative has to be admitted to hospital for another reason, please ensure staff are alerted if you or your friend/relative has been in contact with somebody who is displaying the symptoms
- 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