New warning as norovirus outbreaks hit

PEOPLE have been told to stay away from hospitals if they are showing symptoms of norovirus.

Cases have risen in recent weeks, with some UK trusts urging caution as medics take care of people with Covid and the winter vomiting bug.

Norovirus outbreaks have been seen in schools in recent weeksCredit: Getty – Contributor

Around 400 beds have been taken up in two NHS trusts with patients showing symptoms of norovirus.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Foundation Trust asked people with Covid or upset stomachs to stay away from hospitals unless they are severely ill.

A post from NHS Grampian in Scotland said Dr Gray’s hospital in Elgin had to close four wards, due to 23 staff and patients hit by an outbreak.

Earlier this month Walsall Healthcare Trust said: “People attending appointments or visiting patients at Walsall Manor Hospital within the circumstances currently allowed are being urged to make sure they stay away if they have sickness and diarrhoea.

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“Norovirus infection, often referred to as the winter vomiting bug, is easily transmissible and is currently affecting two wards in the hospital.”

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has sent out a number of warnings to remind people of the symptoms and how to keep safe.

Outbreaks have been seen in schools in recent weeks, with a few in care homes too.

Professor Saheer Gharbia, Gastrointestinal Pathogens & Food Safety Directorate, UKHSA, said: “Norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, has been at lower levels than normal throughout the pandemic but as people have begun to mix more, the numbers of outbreaks have started to increase again.

“Symptoms include sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea but can also include a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs.

“Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared.

“Please avoid visiting elderly relatives if you are unwell – particularly if they are in a care home or hospital.

“As with Covid-19 and other infectious illnesses, hand washing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, unlike for Covid-19 alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so soap and water is best.”

The country hadn’t really seen an outbreak of the vomiting illness since the start of the pandemic, with mixing kept to a minimum over both winters.

But now as restrictions are scrapped, winter bugs have returned and cases are increasing.

It can spread quickly through contact with infected patients or contaminated surfaces, but usually passes in a couple of days.

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Always wash your hands with soap and water to avoid spreading the virus, as sanitising does not work on the norovirus.

UKHSA warned out of season or unusual cases could be seen in the next few months as Covid restrictions end, and the outbreaks are later than usual.

If you are showing symptoms try to avoid seeing your GP, but make an appointment on the phone if you are concerned.

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