AN outbreak of vomiting bug norovirus at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has led to the hospital restricting visiting to five wards.
Five wards at the hospital have been affected by the highly contagious winter bug which affects up to a million people in the UK each year.
While the situation at the hospital is improving, it is not doing so as quickly as expected.
Therefore, the decision has been taken to restrict all visiting to Wards 21, 23, 36, 37, and the Acute Medical Unit.
For those members of the public that do visit the hospital, they are asked to 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, no member of the public should come to the hospital at all if they have been sick or had diarrhoea in the last 72 hours or been in close contact with someone who has.
Juliet Walters, chief operating officer at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Whilst we understand that this will cause patients and members of the public some frustration, this measure will allow us to help prevent the spread of the infection and ensure safe patient care.
“Our staff are working extremely hard to deal with this outbreak quickly and this decision will help us return services to normal as soon as possible.
“This decision may seem drastic but 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.
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.
The elderly and young can be more vulnerable to the infection and anyone with concerns should call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.