VISITING restrictions are in force at a Worcester hospital after an outbreak of a winter diarrhoea and vomiting bug.

Laurel one ward at Worcestershire Royal Hospital is closed to admissions but ‘several’ other wards are affected by suspected Norovirus, a spokeswoman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed today although she could not confirm which ones. The Alexandra Hospital and Kidderminster Hospital have no reported cases and Worcestershire’s five community hospitals in Malvern, Pershore, Evesham, Tenbury and Bromsgrove are clear.

Visiting is restricted to immediate family members, with a maximum of two visitors per patient at Worcester.

Helen Blanchard, chief nursing officer, said: “It can be very difficult to contain the spread of this extremely contagious illness and we are therefore working with colleagues in the community to provide more care in the home unless the patient requires admission because of additional health concerns.”

Stewart Messer, chief operating officer, said: “They can cause major service disruption (staff shortages, ward closures, cancelled operations, increased waiting times) so we really appreciate the public support when we have to impose visiting restrictions.”

Mari Gay, executive nurse for South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We know that sometimes visitors feel they must take every opportunity to visit sick friends or relatives. However, if they themselves have been unwell, they could be putting others at risk.”

Norovirus can be particularly serious for people who are already ill or who have a long term condition.

Steps to stop the spread of Norovirus include frequent handwashing with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food; using hand gels in hospital before entering or leaving a ward; disinfecting any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated using bleach-based household cleaner; flushing away any infected faeces or vomit in the toilet; keeping the surrounding toilet area clean and hygienic; washing any clothing, or linens, which could have become contaminated.

People usually recover without treatment in 24-72 hours but it is important to stay away from work, school, college or any social gatherings until free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
People are urged not to visit their GP surgery or local accident and emergency unit.