Bury St Edmunds: Wards shut after norovirus outbreak

TWO wards at West Suffolk Hospital have been shut to new admissions after several patients showed symptoms of the winter vomiting bug.

Six patients on ward G4 and three on G5 have shown symptoms of the highly contagious norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

Both wards are closed to new admissions but remain open to visitors, who have been urged to take extra care to wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and when leaving the hospital.

Staff at the hospital are taking steps to stop the illness from spreading, including carrying out enhanced cleaning in the affected areas and ensuring patients from the affected wards are not transferred elsewhere in the hospital. Additional signs have been put up to remind visitors to wash their hands with soap and water, while anyone who has shown symptoms of the virus is urged to stay away.

Norovirus affects hundreds of people in the community each year. Sufferers get bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting which last for two or three days.

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Gwen Nuttall, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said: “Norovirus is very infectious and every year there are cases in the community which transfer to the hospital. Because the virus has an incubation period of several days, people are often unaware that they are carrying it until after they have passed it on.

“We are managing the current cases using our stringent infection control policies and our cleaning staff have been working hard to make sure enhanced cleaning takes place on the affected wards.

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“We would advise anyone who has had diarrhoea or vomiting to stay away from the hospital for at least 72 hours after they have recovered, even if they feel better. Otherwise they run the risk of unknowingly passing the highly contagious illness on to someone who is already sick.

“Anyone who visits the hospital should be vigilant and take care to clean their hands. If they are visiting the affected wards, they should use soap and water when they arrive and before they leave as the alcohol gel is not effective against this virus.”

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