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Norovirus outbreak sparks plea for visitors to stay away from hospital

PUBLISHED: 11:36 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:45 07 February 2020

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

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An outbreak of the norovirus bug has prompted visiting restrictions to be introduced at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

NNUH chief nurse Professor Nancy Fontaine. Photo: NNUHNNUH chief nurse Professor Nancy Fontaine. Photo: NNUH

The stomach bug, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is circulating in the community and cases have been confirmed at the Colney hospital.

The hospital has not introduced any blanket ban on visiting, but is urging people not to visit the hospital unless it is absolutely necessary and not to bring in children aged under 12 years.

Professor Nancy Fontaine, the hospital's chief nurse and director of infection prevention and control, said: "Norovirus is widely circulating in the community and our advice is to wash your hands as a matter of routine with hot, soapy water upon entering and leaving a ward.

"Hand sanitisers and alcohol gel will work against some bacteria and flu viruses but they will not protect you against norovirus. To help keep norovirus out of hospitals, it is important that people do not visit patients if they have been ill with a stomach bug or in close contact with someone who has had sickness or diarrhoea."

Five ways to limit the spread of norovirus

- Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms. Do not return to work or send children to school until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. Also avoid visiting elderly or poorly relatives, particularly if they are in hospital.

- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels don't kill norovirus.

- Use a bleach-based household cleaner or a combination of bleach and hot water to disinfect household surfaces and commonly used objects such as toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces.

- If you are ill, avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others.

- Wash any contaminated clothing or bedding using detergent and at 60°C, and if possible wear disposable gloves to handle contaminated items.

How to spot the signs of norovirus

The main symptoms of norovirus are typically:

- suddenly feeling sick

- projectile vomiting

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- watery diarrhoea

Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs.

The symptoms appear one to two days after people become infected and typically last for up to two or three days.

Most people will make a full recovery within one or two days, but it is important to drink plenty of fluids during that time to prevent dehydration especially in the very young, elderly or those with weakened immunity.

Do

- stay at home and get plenty of rest

- drink lots of fluids, such as water or squash - take small sips if you feel sick

- carry on breast or bottle feeding your baby - if they're being sick, try giving small feeds more often than usual

- give babies on formula or solid foods small sips of water between feeds

- eat when you feel able to - you don't need to eat or avoid any specific foods

- take paracetamol if you're in discomfort - check the leaflet before giving it to your child

Don't

- go back to work, or send your children back to school, until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared

- have fruit juice or fizzy drinks - they can make diarrhoea worse

- make baby formula weaker - use it at its usual strength

- give children under 12 medicine to stop diarrhoea

- give aspirin to children under 16


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