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Hospital trust’s urgent appeal for vigilance to keep Norovirus at bay in county

Herefordshire’s health bosses are urging people to take simple precautions to avoid going down with the winter vomiting bug, Norovirus.

With many neighbouring hospitals already closing their doors to visitors due to the bug, Wye Valley NHS Trust is also asking that anyone who has had diarrhoea, vomiting or flu-like symptoms in the last four days, stay away from hospital.

Currently Hereford County Hospital only has one bay - a handful of beds - affected by Norovirus.

“These stomach bugs are highly contagious and can spread rapidly anywhere that people are gathered, such as schools or offices,” said Neil Doverty, Wye Valley NHS Trust’s Chief Operating Officer.

“Hospitals are public buildings with many hundreds of visitors every day. We want people to think carefully before visiting hospitals if they, or anyone in their family, has even mild symptoms of stomach upset,” added Neil.

Symptoms of Norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and, just like flu, the virus can seriously affect vulnerable patients. Diseases such as Noroviruses can be exacerbated by colder weather, and can be particularly serious for people who are already ill or who have a long term condition.

“We’re asking everyone considering visiting a friend or relative in hospital to think carefully about whether they need to come if they have experienced diarrhoea, vomiting or flu-like symptoms in the last four days.

“We understand people wanting to visit sick friends or relatives, but if they themselves have been unwell, they could put others at risk. If you’re unsure whether to visit, please feel free to contact the ward nurse before you come into our hospitals.”

Anyone worried about prolonged symptoms should ring their GP. They will be able to provide advice for those who are at greater risk from dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as children under the age of five or the elderly.

In addition to not visiting the hospital if you are unwell, good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of the infection and there are some simple steps that can be taken 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.

  • 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.
  • Flush away any infected 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.

If you have Norovirus, the best thing you can do is rest, and take plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.  Don’t visit your GP surgery or local A&E Unit. You should recover naturally without any specific treatment.