'Please, please don't visit': Hospitals in lockdown amid worst norovirus outbreak in five years
Birmingham's City Hospital has imposed the ban until further notice after an outbreak
of the bug forced four wards to close Comes as Doncaster
& Bassetlaw trust takes to Twitter, begging those with any symptoms to stay away
Cases of winter vomiting bug up 72% on last year
13:16 GMT, 14 December 2012
Hospitals are going into lockdown in a desperate bid to get the winter vomiting bug under control.
Birmingham's City Hospital announced today that visitors are banned until further notice, after an outbreak of the bug forced the closure of four wards.
Another major hospital has taken to Twitter, pleading with anyone who has recently had the bug – or suspects they may be infected – to stay away.
& Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust tweeted: 'Please, please,
please don't visit hospital if you've had vomiting or diarrhoea tummy
bug in last 48 hours (2 days)…!'
Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has taken to Twitter, pleading with infected people to stay away
A spokeswoman for Birmingham's City Hospital said it was a precautionary measure, to stop the spread of the virus ahead of Christmas.
In a statement, the hospital said: 'Members of the public are urged not to come to Accident and Emergency
Departments if they have diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms, unless they
need emergency medical treatment. Instead, they should telephone their
GP or NHS Direct.
'People suffering with symptoms who are due to attend the hospital for an appointment should telephone the hospital first.'
Wards excluded by the ban are critical care, paediatrics, maternity, outpatients and the Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre.
The spokeswoman said the restriction would hopefully be lifted within a week.
Rachel Overfield, chief nurse at the hospital, told the BBC: ‘Norovirus is a problem that's out in
the community and it comes into hospitals and then causes us problems in
the hospital, so the more we can stop people coming and going… the more
likely we are to get on top of this quickly.
‘As soon as these things crop up on the
wards we isolate patients, make sure staff aren't moving around, close
the affected ward to visitors, increase cleaning and reinforce infection
'We've currently got three wards confirmed with norovirus and a fourth ward that we're suspicious has norovirus, and then [possibly] a fifth ward down at Rowley Regis hospital as well.'
Birmingham's City Hospital announced today it is closed to visitors, after an outbreak of the bug forced the closure of four wards
Ms Overfield said that about 34 patients are currently affected and a 'handful of staff'.
symptoms of the bug is urged to stay away, as it is highly contagious. The virus
spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools,
nursing and residential homes.
Last week, patients at Chesterfield Royal Hospital were banned from receiving visitors, after a prolonged outbreak of the vomiting bug continued to plague the hospital.
And last month, Warwick Hospital banned visitors from entering six wards at following an outbreak.
Hundreds of hospital wards have been forced to close due to the spread of norovirus, as fears grow that this winter's outbreak could prove to be the worst on record.
New figures released this week by the Health Protection Agency revealed cases of the bug are at a five-year high – with more than two-thirds as many people struck down this year as during the same period in 2011.
The huge early outbreak is thought to represent the worst start to the norovirus season on record, with some experts blaming particularly frigid November temperatures for the staggering numbers of cases.
The new HPA figures show there have been 2,630 confirmed cases – where samples have been checked in the lab – since July.
This is 72 per cent higher than the same period in the last season when there were 1,533 cases reported.
But this figure is likely to be only a fraction of the true total as most sufferers do not see their GP. Officials at the HPA estimate that for every confirmed case there are another 288 in the community.
This means that 757,440 people could have been affected.