Hospital visits limited as winter bug arrives early

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FRIENDS and relatives of hospital patients in Sheffield are being asked to make visits only if ‘absolutely necessary’ - to prevent the spread of a winter bug.

The measure has been put in place after cases of unpleasant norovirus started to emerge earlier than expected in the region’s hospitals.

In particular, visitors are being asked to avoid the hospitals if they, or anyone around them, has had sickness or diarrohea within the past 72 hours before arriving on the wards.

Although most people make a full recovery within up to two days, the bug can make hospital patients very weak and dehydrated, and can interfere with the effectiveness of medicines.

Professor Hilary Chapman, chief nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are really asking the public for their help in preventing the spread of this nasty winter bug.

“We are asking visitors only to visit the Northern General, Royal Hallamshire, Weston Park or Jessop Wing hospitals if it is absolutely necessary in a bid to minimise the risk of the bug coming into wards from people in the community.”

Prof Chapman added: “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 and use alternative methods of contact.”

Visitors are also being urged to follow a number of steps to reduce the spread of the bug, including washing hands with soap and hot water, or using alcohol hand rub when entering and leaving wards.

People are also being asked not to sit on patients’ beds, using the chairs provided instead, and not be afraid to check that staff have decontaminated their hands before making ward rounds.

Between 600,000 and one million people in the UK catch norovirus every year.

The stomach virus is highly contagious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

There is no specific cure for the bug.