A case of suspected norovirus has broken out a Hemel Hempstead Hospital ward for elderly patients awaiting placement in a care home.
The West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the town facility alongside Watford and St Albans hospitals, today confirmed that the 28-bed Churchill Ward has been put into isolation due to the outbreak of the so-called ‘winter vomiting bug’.
Staff at the ward, to which patients who either need to found or assessed for new care arrangements or accommodation are transferred, are treating ‘a small number of patients’ suspected to have the virus, and have closed Churchill ward to new admissions to try and minimise the spread of the illness.
Visitors are asked to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before entering and on leaving the ward, and family members are asked to refrain from bringing in children to visit.
Professor Tracey Carter, chief nurse and director of infection prevention and control at the Trust, said: “Norovirus is extremely common at this time of year and we have well-tested plans in place to help avoid it spreading in our hospitals.
“This includes closing wards to new admissions, isolating patients who are showing symptoms – for instance in a side room – and ensuring patients regularly wash their hands.
“Local people have a key role to play too. We ask them not to visit our hospitals if they are showing the signs and symptoms of norovirus.
“Although having norovirus can be unpleasant, it’s not usually dangerous and most people make a full recovery within a couple of days without having to see their GP.”
Norovirus – the most common stomach bug in the UK – is highly contagious and can affect people of all ages and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
Norovirus is easily spread as the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person. For more information about norovirus, including how it can be prevented, visit www.nhs.uk/norovirus or call NHS 111.
Although having norovirus can be unpleasant, it’s not usually dangerous and most people make a full recovery within a couple of daysProfessor Tracey Carter