People urged to help prevent norovirus spread
Wednesday 20th January, 2010
People in West Sussex are being urged to take precautions to avoid passing on norovirus as hospitals ask visitors with symptoms to steer clear of wards.
Patients at Worthing Hospital, St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and East Surrey Hospital in Redhill have all recently been affected by the ‘winter vomiting and diarrhoea virus’.
Community hospitals across West Sussex have also been hit by the bug, which is highly infectious and can spread easily from person to person. Symptoms include sickness and diarrhoea.
If you do become ill symptoms can last for 24-48 hours, but you will stay infectious for up to 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.
As a result, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St Richards Hospital in Chichester, Worthing Hospital and Southlands Hospital, is asking anyone who is planning to visit someone at one of their hospitals, but who has been ill within the last 48 hours, to stay at home.
Andrew Foulkes, a GP based in Yapton and Middleton, said: “There are cases of sickness and diarrhoea in the community. I would encourage anyone suffering from these conditions to stay away from their general practices and hospitals. It can too easily be passed on to vulnerable patients and staff.
“Anyone with these symptoms should stay at home, wash your hands regularly, drink lots of water and stay warm. If symptoms persist, or if there are other conditions or concerns, contact your GP for advice, the out-of-hours service, or phone NHS Direct.”
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital, is providing general advice for visitors. This includes:
Stay home if unwell - Visitors should not come to the hospital if they feel unwell, or have been in the past week. If you suspect you have the virus first contact your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647, rather than coming to hospital
Strict hand hygiene must be followed - To limit risks of spreading the virus, visitors must use soap and water and wear protective clothing if requested. Alcohol gel is not effective in preventing or reducing symptoms of norovirus
Visiting numbers - Advice is to limit visitors to two people per patient. During an outbreak visitors are restricted to essential visiting only
Gifts - Don’t bring any fruit or flowers
East Surrey Hospital has also put in measures to control and prevent the spread of infection, including strict hand hygiene, food-handling controls, prompt disinfection of contaminated areas and the isolation of those infected for 48 hours after their symptoms have ceased.
People are being encouraged to stay at home if they think they have symptoms of the norovirus and those with suspected symptoms should contact their GP or phone NHS Direct. People should wash their hands regularly, drink lots of water and stay warm.