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North East norovirus outbreak: No date for hospital wards reopening

norovirus

Visitors to hospitals are being restricted after outbreaks at three sites across Northumberland and North Tyneside

A North East NHS trust is unable to confirm when wards at three of its hospitals will reopen after norovirus outbreaks.

The Northumbria Healthcare trust said on Monday that several wards across North Tyneside General, Wansbeck and the Northumbria Hospital in Cramlington had been closed to stop the spread of the winter vomiting bug.

A spokesperson for the trust said there was no timescale on when the sealed wards would reopen, but said it was “doing everything we can” to control the outbreaks.

People are being urged not to visit hospital sites unless absolutely necessary if they have any symptoms of the highly contagious illness.

And visits to sick patients are being officially restricted, a move the trust said it “did not take lightly”.

The virus usually starts with a sense of ‘feeling sick’ which is then followed by vomiting, and watery, loose diarrhoea.

Depending on the person it can also include stomach cramps, general aches and pains, headaches and fever.

It is highly contagious and can spread at incredible speed in a number of ways.

The Trust’s medical director, Jeremy Rushmer, said: “Every year we are affected by norovirus to one degree or another – this year is part of that pattern.

“The issue is that, given how fast it spreads, we often have to close whole areas; this at a time when the whole system is already under unsustainable pressure.

“It’s now severe enough that we are asking people to not visit our sites unless it is absolutely necessary.

“If someone you know has symptoms of norovirus do not visit – you risk causing harm to them, yourself and those close to you. If you have symptoms yourself – stay away. “There is no cure; you just have to wait it out.”

The risk of norovirus is most effectively reduced by good hygiene and using common sense.

Director of nursing, Ellie Monkhouse, said: “We are really struggling with norovirus at the moment and we have several wards closed, which is having quite an impact on patients.

“If you do come and visit a hospital please make sure you wash your hands – it’s the best form of resistance.

“If you are displaying any of the symptoms, such as stomach pains, fever or diarrhoea, please don’t come to the hospital without ringing the ward beforehand.”

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