Health chiefs in appeal over winter vomiting bug as hospital wards closed

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TWO hospital wards have closed at a Yorkshire hospital following an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug which is sweeping across the country, officials said yesterday.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is urging people who have diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms to stay away until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours.

At present two wards – ward 19 at Castle Hill Hospital and ward 10 at Hull Royal Infirmary – are closed.

The closures come as the Health Protection Agency said the number of confirmed cases of norovirus was 83 per cent higher than at the same time last year, with almost 880,000 people affected.

Several bays in different wards at York Hospital are still closed because of an outbreak which began last month. Both trusts have restricted visiting in affected areas.

Anyone wishing to visit a relative is advised to call the ward ahead of their planned visit.

Although people can suffer from norovirus at any time of the year, activity increases in the winter, with most activity between January and March.

Norovirus is the commonest cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis in hospitals. The illness is usually quite mild, lasting for about 48 hours.

However, people who have had symptoms can remain infectious for another 48 hours after the symptoms have gone away.

A spokesperson for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Our priority is
patient safety. We have two 
affected wards and we will do whatever we have to, to ensure this virus does not spread any further, including restricting visiting hours and in some cases not allowing visitors into affected areas.

“Our message to the public at this time of the year is clear – if you have experienced diarrhoea or vomiting then please do not visit the hospital until you have been symptom free for more than 48 hours.

“Norovirus is extremely infectious and can spread rapidly through our patients and staff causing significant disruption to the day-to-day running of the hospital.”