An NHS hospital trust in the North East has banned people from visiting patients at all of its hospitals, because of outbreaks of the winter vomiting bug Norovirus.
The Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said on Wednesday that there were only two exceptions - people visiting patients who are critically ill, or who are receiving end-of-life care. Those patients can still receive visitors.
Across five of the Trust's hospitals 120 patients and 50 members of staff have been diagnosed with the illness.
Families and friends of all other patients are being told to stay away, in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading.
These are the hospitals where the visitor ban is in force:
- Northumbria Special Emergency Care Hospital, Cramlington
- Hexham General Hospital
- North Tyneside General Hospital
- Morpeth Cottage Hospital
- Wansbeck General Hospital
- Alnwick Infirmary
- Berwick Infirmary
- Blyth Community Hospital
- Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital
What is Norovirus?
Norovirus infection is a common cause of gastro-enteritis. The onset of illness is often sudden and severe with projectile vomiting.
Some people also have diarrhoea. The symptoms normally last for 24-48 hours after which the person will feel lethargic and washed out.
Public Health England’s advice for people who think they may have norovirus or winter vomiting is:
What to do if you have symptoms:
- Norovirus infection is a self-limiting illness and you will usually recover naturally without treatment. It is, however, important to take plenty of drinks to replace lost fluids.
- Visit the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk for advice on how to manage your symptoms at home or help to access the most appropriate health service.
- If symptoms persist, ask for a telephone consultation with your family doctor. Try to avoid visiting your GP surgery or local A&E Unit as you may pass the infection on to others.
- Wash hands thoroughly and regularly at all times, but particularly after using the toilet and before eating.
- Do not visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes until you have fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours as there is a real risk that you would introduce the infection into these communities putting vulnerable people at risk.
- Stay away from work or school until you have fully recovered and been free of symptoms for 48 hours.
- Do not handle or prepare food for other people until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.