North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is appealing to the community for help in minimising the impact of an ongoing norovirus outbreak on Willow C ward at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Ward 4B at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.
Norovirus is continuing to circulate in the community and a small number of patients at both of the Trust’s hospitals have been affected.
Ward 4A at West Cumberland Hospital has now reopened to visitors after an outbreak of norovirus last week.
All potential visitors are being asked to please refrain from visiting Willow C and Ward 4B until further notice, with the exception of end of life patients and patients for whom, at the discretion of the ward staff, it is felt that visiting is essential.
The Trust is also appealing for anyone planning to visit either of its hospitals in Whitehaven and Carlisle to stay at home if they, or their family members, have had diarrhoea or vomiting symptoms in the last two days.
This request is part of the essential measures designed to help control the norovirus situation within the hospitals and keep it away from vulnerable patients and staff who could pass it on. Furthermore, the Trust is mindful of protecting patients’ privacy and dignity as much as possible during an outbreak of this nature.
Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and the virus can seriously affect vulnerable patients.
People want to see friends and relatives in hospital as often as they can. However, by visiting while they are ill with a stomach bug or have been in contact with somebody who has symptoms, they can easily bring the virus into hospital. This can be particularly serious for people who are already ill or who have a long-term condition.
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:
“We know that many visitors feel they must take every opportunity to visit sick friends or relatives, but at this time we would ask everyone to please refrain from visiting Willow C in Carlisle Ward 4b in Whitehaven until further notice. We appreciate this is difficult for patients and their loved ones but the more people who pass through our hospitals, the greater risk of the virus spreading and affecting more vulnerable patients and hospital staff.”
“Everyone visiting our hospitals are reminded to please follow strict hand washing guidance and ask staff on the ward if unsure of how to minimise the risk of infection.
“If you have had norovirus yourself, please stay away until you have been symptom-free for at least two days.
“If you feel that your visit is essential due to caring for a relative with dementia for example, please contact the ward directly for further advice. We will continue to keep everybody updated on the situation.”
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 a 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.