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How to make sure you don’t get or spread norovirus bug

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 November 2012

Hospitals and health professionals are urging the public to help safeguard themselves and sick patients by taking steps to avoid spreading an infectious sickness bug.

Norovirus is circulating in the community in both Norfolk and Suffolk, and figures from the Health Protection Agency show the number of confirmed reports of the virus nationwide – where samples have been sent by hospitals or GPs to laboratories for tests – is up 52pc on last year.

The director of public health for NHS Norfolk and Waveney, Dr Jenny Harries, said norovirus is unpleasant but is usually something people that are normally healthy can recover from at home, without the need to see a doctor.

She added: “We ask that anyone who thinks they may have norovirus to please try to remain at home or away from others for a full 48 hours after the last incidence of vomiting. This will help us to protect norovirus from spreading to schools, care homes and hospitals where it might put vulnerable people, who would need watching more closely, at risk.

“Everyone can take steps to help protect themselves from norovirus by washing hands thoroughly and regularly, particularly after using the toilet and before eating.”

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has not yet had to close any wards, but has seen some cases of norovirus.

A spokesman said: “As normal for this time of year with it being the winter norovirus season, we’ve seen small pockets from time to time of patients infected with the norovirus across the trust, which in a 1,000-bedded hospital is a tiny percentage.

“However we continue to remain vigilant at all times and encourage all those visiting us to be equally vigilant and not to visit if they have been ill or in close contact with someone who has been ill with the virus in the last 48 hours.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn has been unaffected so far while the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston has had 19 cases of norovirus since April 1, and has had four ward closures during that time, none of which lasted longer than a week.

The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has had one outbreak so far, which was in mid November and closed two bays on a ward for a week. The bays are now open again.

A spokesman said: “Because the virus has an incubation period of several days, people are often unaware that they are carrying it until after they have passed it on.

“We would advise anyone who has had diarrhoea or vomiting to stay away from the hospital for at least 72 hours after they have recovered, even if they feel better.”

A “Germbusters” tool kit has been set up at which has more information, such as links to videos, fact sheets, helpful hints on how to prevent infections and what to do if someone falls ill. There are also useful resources for schools, homes and offices.

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