Sickness bug shuts three hospital wards

A HOSPITAL has been forced to close three wards after an outbreak of Norovirus.

Lizzie Parry

A HOSPITAL has been forced to close three wards after an outbreak of Norovirus.

The James Paget Hospital in Gorleston was on red alert at the weekend, just one stage away from black alert which would mean the hospital would be closed to new admissions.

Duty manager for the hospital Andrew Fox said the wards had been shut as a result of the winter vomiting virus but that contrary to rumours the hospital was not on black alert.

“Yes, wards have been shut and, yes, we have got a very pressurised accident and emergency department,” he said.

“The hospital is not shut and we are not on black alert but yes we are under extreme pressure at the moment.

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“We are currently on red alert, the next stage down from black alert, so we still have empty beds.”

Visitors were being urged to stay away from the hospital in order to protect patients from the widespread seasonal stomach bug, often known as the winter vomiting virus.

Wendy Slaney, medical director at the hospital, said the affected wards had been closed to new admissions and strict restrictions were in place for visitors to these wards.

She said: “This is a routine precautionary measure to enable us to protect our patients by restricting the chances of people spreading this infection.

“We ask patients and all our visitors to be extra vigilant. Please do not visit the hospital if you have recently had symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting or have been in close contact with someone who has over the past two days.

“We are also asking all visitors to wash their hands with soap and hot water when visiting a ward affected with Norovirus.

“Alcohol gel is effective against bacteria but not all viruses so hand washing as well as using the gel is really important.”

Norovirus is highly infectious and can spread quickly through any close contact.