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31 January 2012, 05:00
A ward at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has closed to new admissions after several patients showed symptoms of norovirus.
A total of 16 patients on ward G3 have shown symptoms of the highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting virus. The ward was closed to new admissions on Saturday and visiting restricted to evenings. Anyone who does visit the ward has been urged to take extra care to wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and when leaving the hospital.
Staff at the hospital are taking steps to stop the illness from spreading, including carrying out enhanced cleaning and ensuring patients from the affected ward are not transferred elsewhere in the hospital. Additional signs have been put up to remind visitors to wash their hands with soap and water, while anyone who has shown symptoms of the virus is urged to stay away.
Nichole Day, executive chief nurse at West Suffolk Hospital, said: "Norovirus is very infectious and every year there are cases in the community which transfer to the hospital. 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 are managing the current cases using our stringent infection control policies and are working hard to prevent the infection from spreading to any other wards. Our cleaning staff have also been carrying out enhanced cleaning in the affected area. 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. Otherwise they run the risk of unknowingly passing the highly contagious illness on to someone who is already sick.
Anyone who visits the hospital should be vigilant and take care to clean their hands. If they are visiting the affected ward, they should use soap and water when they arrive and before they leave as the alcohol gel is not effective against this virus."