Are Norfolk hospitals winning the fight against norovirus?



Hospitals in Norfolk are continuing to fend off norovirus-related disruption, despite an increase in infections across the country.

Bosses have reported only a handful of cases of the winter vomiting bug at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the James Paget University Hospital during January – a month that was supposed to see a big jump in outbreaks.

Officials at both hospitals urged patients to maintain good hand hygiene standards and to not visit wards if they have been struck down by sickness or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said norovirus levels had been quite low since Christmas with a handful of patients affected. Just two patients out of 1,000 inpatients currently have the infection, she said.

Emma McKay, director of nursing, said restrictive visiting was implemented at the hospital when a case was recorded.

'We issue advice to visitors to try and keep norovirus out of our hospital and it is important that people do not visit patients if they have been ill with a stomach bug in the past few days or in contact with someone who has had sickness or diarrhoea. We also advise our patients, visitors and staff is to wash their hands as a matter of routine with hot soapy water. Hand sanitisers and alcohol gel will work against bacteria and flu viruses, but they will not protect you against norovirus,' she said.

A spokesman for the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston said there had been just one ward closure in January, but the number of cases was lower than expected for the time of year. Ward staff are on heightened alert for any patient with unexplained sudden onset diarrhoea or vomiting.

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The Health Protection Agency said there had been 4,892 confirmed cases from the beginning of July to January 20 across the country, which was 41pc higher than the same period in 2011/12.