Norovirus victims urged to stay away from Welsh hospitals
4:20pm Monday 29th October 2012 in News
PEOPLE affected by the norovirus sickness bug are being urged to stay away from hospitals for at least 48 hours after symptoms have passed, to try minimise its effect on wards.
Three wards at a west Wales hospital were closed by a norovirus outbreak last week, and though recent cases in Gwent have not caused that level of disruption, health chiefs are urging caution.
"Outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are not uncommon because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person," said Wales' chief medical officer Dr Ruth Hussey.
"To help prevent the spread, hospitals may restrict visiting to affected areas. If you already have sickness or diarrhoea, please do not visit."
Dr Hussey said a "common sense" approach to coping with the bug is also important.
"The sickness and diarrhoea bug, which can be caused by Norovirus in some patients, normally lasts between 24 and 60 hours, though symptoms tend to ease after two days," she said.
"To reduce the risk of passing the virus onto others, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food, and don't share towels or flannels.
"If you think you have a seasonal diarrhoea and vomiting bug, stay at home and don't go to the doctor, because it is contagious and there is nothing the doctor can do while you have it.
"Seek advice online or by telephone from NHS Direct, or speak to a pharmacist. However, contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness."
An Aneurin Bevan Health Board spokesman said Gwent hospitals have had a low level of cases recently, but the impact has not been significant to date.
Ward closures however, can put a stain on other parts of the hospital system.