Winter vomiting bug warning

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People who’ve had vomiting or diarrhoea are being told to stay away from hospitals and care homes until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours to limit the spread of norovirus.

As norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is circulating among the general public, hospitals and care homes across the North East are now seeing patients and residents developing vomiting and diarrhoea, potentially after the infection has been brought into the wards by visitors.

People who have had norovirus are still infectious up to 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped which is why it’s important not to visit hospitals or care homes while you have these symptoms and for two days afterwards.

Dr Deb Wilson, from the North East PHE Centre, said: “Norovirus is highly infectious and can spread rapidly in communities such as hospitals, care homes, sheltered housing accommodation and schools, which is why it is so important that people stay away from these places and work or school until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

“Noroviruses cause a very unpleasant but generally short-lived illness from which healthy people usually recover without treatment. But it can cause more serious illness in the very young, elderly people and those with chronic illnesses.”

Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team of NHS England, adds: “Hospitals are often under pressure around winter, and this can be made worse if bugs like norovirus enter wards. These bugs can pass quickly between visitors, patients and staff, which can result in staff being off ill, beds becoming unavailable, and appointments being postponed.

“There are some really basic steps you can take to help us to keep services running as normal, such as not visiting hospital if you’ve been sick or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.

“We also advise children aged 12 years or younger not to visit hospital, as they often pick these bugs up at school. If you’re visiting someone in hospital, remember no more than two visitors are allowed in at any one time, and to use the seats provided at bedside.”

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