Wards closed as norovirus hits

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THE Northern General Hospital in Sheffield has closed three wards to new admissions to contain the spread of the norovirus vomiting and sickness bug.

Doctors have taken 19 beds out of use at the hospital as the extremely contagious disease - known as the winter vomiting bug - strikes hospitals around South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.

Managers have urged visitors to consider staying away from hospitals in a bid to control the bug, which spreads through personal contact, food and water.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital has stopped taking new admissions on two wards after 23 patients and five staff contracted the bug.

Rotherham Hospital, which was hit by the virus before Christmas, is still experiencing some cases but is starting to control the outbreak.

And Doncaster’s Royal Infirmary and Montagu Hospital, which closed eight wards before Christmas, is now completely clear of the bug.

There have been no cases in Barnsley.

Chris Morley, deputy chief nurse of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said the number of beds affected at the hospital had fallen slightly, from 25 on Monday, but stressed the virus is still at large in the community.

He said: “We have had an increase in incidents of norovirus over the last few days and lots of people are suffering from the illness but still coming in to visit friends and relatives in hospital, who then pass it on.

“We are asking visitors to support our efforts by not visiting hospitals if they have had symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting in the last 72 hours.”

Mr Morley urged people who do visit friends and relatives to use the alcohol hand rub provided, and to wash their hands before and after contact with patients.

He also asked visitors not to bring fruit or other food which could be left uncovered on patients’ bedsides.

A Rotherham Hospital spokesman said: “The number of patients attending A&E with the virus has reduced, however the trust continues to advise anyone with symptoms including diarrhoea or vomiting not to visit.”

A Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals spokesman added: “All wards are now open and free of norovirus, which is a significant achievement because the bug is extremely contagious. We are still asking patients and visitors to stay away if they have a stomach upset.”

Although the infection is unpleasant, in most healthy people it will pass in 12 to 60 hours.