Hospital visitors asked to stay away

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MEMBERS of the public members are being asked not to visit relatives and friends at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary for the next 72 hours in order to help control an outbreak of winter vomiting at the hospital.

Nine wards at the hospital have now been affected by the highly contagious norovirus which affects up to a million people in the UK each year.

It is found in the community and is easily transmitted.

The bug affects schools, workplaces and other areas where groups of people are in close proximity, such as hospitals.

Visitors are being asked to stay away from the hospital to help prevent the spread of the infection and to ensure safe patient care.

This is standard procedure to make it possible for NHS staff to deal quickly with an outbreak and return services to normal as soon as possible.

If their visit is absolutely necessary, members of the public are asked to phone the ward beforehand and ensure they wash their hands with soap and

water before entering the hospital.

Alcohol gel is not effective against norovirus.

Unless it is an emergency, you should not come to the hospital at all if you have been sick or had diarrhoea in the last 72 hours or been in close contact with someone who has.

Peter Dyer, Medical Director, UHMBT: “If you have any symptoms of a virus such as a runny nose, sore throat, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, do not visit the hospital unless absolutely necessary.

“If you have to visit, please ensure that you contact ward staff to discuss before you visit and do not bring any babies, children or vulnerable people with you.

“This is especially important if you are planning on visiting intensive care units, small babies, children or people undergoing treatment for cancer or blood disorders.

“These precautions are to protect our patients and staff and we would appreciate the co-operation of the public.”

The Norovirus illness does not last long and people usually recover between 12 and 60 hours without treatment other than rest and lots of fluids.

The elderly and young can be more vulnerable to the infection and anyone with concerns should call NHS Direct on 0845-4647.