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People showing signs of sickness or diarrhoea are being asked to stay away from hospital following a recent increase in cases of Norovirus.

Currently, wards 9 and 80 at Hull Royal Infirmary are closed to new admissions due to the winter vomiting bug, and a further three wards (wards 10 and 90 at HRI and ward 16 at Castle Hill Hospital) have bays closed or are operating restricted access.

Patients, visitors and staff who have experienced diarrhoea or vomiting are all being urged to stay away from hospital until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours to help minimise the spread of the virus to others.

Mike Wright, Chief Nurse at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust says:

“It’s not unusual for us to see outbreaks of gastroenteritis, including Norovirus, at this time of year. Unfortunately, bugs like these can spread quickly and easily when you have a number of people in close proximity, such as on a hospital ward.

“Healthy people who suffer from Norovirus or other vomiting bugs are generally able to shake them off within a day or two, but for people who already need hospital care, who may be frail or more vulnerable to infection, catching something like this on top of an existing health problem can be particularly dangerous.

“To try and limit the spread of such bugs to our patients and staff, we would like to ask anyone who has been experiencing sickness and/ or diarrhoea but is otherwise reasonably well to use their common sense and to stay away from hospital until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.”

Norovirus (formerly known as Norwalk virus) is the commonest cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis in hospitals. The illness is usually quite mild, lasting for about 48 hours. However, people who have had symptoms can remain infectious for a further 48 hours after the symptoms have gone away.

Anyone experiencing sickness, vomiting or diarrhoea should first seek advice from their local pharmacy, or telephone their local GP or NHS 111. Attending the GP surgery or Emergency Department is strongly discouraged as this risks spreading the illness to other people who may already be more susceptible to infection.

Regular, thorough handwashing, especially after using the toilet, can also help to reduce the risk of viruses being passed on to others.

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