Winter vomiting bug closes hospital wards

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WEST Suffolk Hospital has closed two of its wards to new admissions this week after the outbreak of a highly contagious winter vomiting and diarrhoea bug.

The hospital in Bury St Edmunds closed its G4 and G5 wards – both of which look after patients with acute medical conditions who have been transferred either from the Emergency Assessment Unit or directly from Accident and Emergency.

The closures took place on Monday after six patients on G4 and three on G5 showed symptoms of the highly contagious bug also known as norovirus.

The wards will not reopen to new admissions until 72 hours after symptoms have finished.

Both wards remain open to visitors, who have been urged to take extra care to wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and when leaving the hospital – alcohol gel is not effective against the virus.

Enhanced cleaning has been taking place in the affected areas while patients from affected wards are not being allowed to transfer to other parts of the hospital.

Extra signs have also been put up to remind visitors to wash their hands with soap and water.

Gwen Nuttall, the hospital’s chief operating officer, 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 our cleaning staff have been working hard to make sure enhanced cleaning takes place on the affected wards.

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.”