People planning to visit hospitals and other healthcare facilities are being reminded not to visit if they have experienced any symptoms of Norovirus. 

Norovirus, sometimes known as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common stomach bug in the UK and causes symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

It is highly contagious, meaning that only a few viral particles are required to cause infection. It is passed on by virus particles picked up on the hands being transferred to the mouth (e.g. through touching contaminated surfaces or eating contaminated food). It can also be spread by inhaling small airborne particles of the virus (e.g. if someone nearby has profuse vomiting).

The virus can affect people of all ages. For the vast majority of people, the norovirus is self-limiting (it gets better by itself). But vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and people with a pre-existing illness or weakened immune system could be at risk of complications if exposed to the virus. Therefore we would like to reiterate our normal seasonal message for all hospital visitors – please follow the 48 hour rule. Please do not visit hospital if you have had diarrhoea, vomiting or flu-like symptoms in the last 48 hours.

If you are unsure whether to visit, please feel free to contact the ward nurse before you come into hospital.

Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of the infection and there are some simple steps that you can take to help stop norovirus spreading:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food or eating. If you are visiting in hospital please 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 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 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.

For advice on Norovirus, if you think you may be infected, call 111.

You can also find additional information about Norovirus including the symptoms, treatment and prevention from the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk/norovirus

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