Ward 5 at the West Cumberland Hospital is closed to visitors due to an outbreak of Norovirus.
Dr Clive Graham director of infection prevention & control at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We understand the importance of patients receiving visitors and this is not a decision that the trust has made lightly. It is one we have made to ensure the safety of our patients which is our highest priority. We know this is difficult for some people and if visiting is essential please contact the ward for advice.”
The public are also reminded of the importance of staying away from hospitals if you have any symptoms of norovirus.
Dr Graham added: “Norovirus is a nasty infection for anyone who gets it but can be particularly dangerous for people with other medical conditions. The virus can be unwittingly brought in to the hospitals and other settings by visitors who are displaying symptoms or are not 48 hours clear of symptoms. The impact can be serious on vulnerable patients who are already unwell, have a long-term health condition and for those who are frail.
“When a norovirus outbreak occurs, particularly in an environment like a hospital, it is difficult to contain and can lead to the closure of entire wards, putting a huge strain on local NHS resources.”
There are simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of spreading norovirus:
- Thorough hand washing
- Don’t prepare food while infected
- Immediately clean and disinfect surfaces after episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting
- Wash clothes and bed linen that may be contaminated
- Stay at home if displaying any symptoms and for 48 hours after symptoms have gone.
- Do not visit health and care settings and keep children off school.
As well as norovirus the NHS locally has seen a slight increase in flu cases. The best way to prevent flu is to get your flu jab, this is available from your GP or from pharmacists. If you are over 65 or pregnant or have a long term health condition you are entitle to a free flu jab.
Dr Graham added: “Flu can be fatal and so it is very important that we protect ourselves and our loved ones. It is possible to carry the virus and show no symptoms so if you don’t get a flu jab you could be unwittingly spreading the virus.
“If you are entitled to a free flu jab I would strongly recommend that you get one. We are urging all our staff to have their jab.”