Sheffield hospital wards shut after bug outbreak

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THREE wards at a Sheffield hospital were closed to new admissions last night following outbreaks of the winter vomiting bug.

The wards at the Northern General Hospital, Fir Vale, were shut in a bid to curb the spread of the highly contagious norovirus, which can leave hospital patients weak and dehydrated.

Visitors were urged to stay away where possible, although the hospital said ‘absolutely necessary’ visits would be accommodated.

A hospital spokeswoman told The Star last night: “It’s quite usual for this time of year. We have got three wards affected, but even if it’s just two or three people, then we will close the ward to new admissions.

“We are not saying visitors can’t come, but we are saying don’t visit unless you have absolutely got to and also not to visit if you have been ill in the last 72 hours.”

Hilary Chapman, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief nurse/chief operating officer, said: “Every winter, norovirus becomes active in the local community and we begin to see patients with it on our wards.

“Currently we have three wards at the Northern General Hospital temporarily closed to new patients.

“This is just one of the precautions we take to limit other patients being affected.

“We are also asking the public for their help in preventing the spread of this nasty winter bug.

“We are asking visitors only to visit our hospitals if it is absolutely necessary, in a bid to minimise the risk of the bug coming into wards from people in the community.

“We would like people to think about whether they or anyone close to them such as family, friends or colleagues have had diarrhoea, vomiting or fever within the last 72 hours.

“If this is the case, then they should avoid visiting hospital both to protect themselves, their own relatives or friends and others on the ward.”

Although most people make a full recovery within one or two days, the bug can make hospital patients weak and dehydrated and, in some cases, interfere with the effectiveness of the medicines they are taking.

Visitors who feel they have to go to the hospital are urged to follow these steps in a bid to reduce the spread of the bug among patients:

* Always wash your hands with soap and hot water and/or use alcohol hand rub when entering and leaving the ward;

* Do not visit if you feel unwell. If you, your family or close work colleagues have experienced vomiting and diarrhoea in the last 72 hours, do not visit;

* Do not sit on the patient’s bed. If you intend to visit a friend or relative do not sit on their bed or the patient’s chair;

* Do not be afraid to check staff have decontaminated their hands either by washing them with soap and water or using the alcohol hand rub.