Hospitals warn patients to stay away as Norovirus and Covid outbreaks hit

NHS hospitals across the country have sent warnings over the spread of Norovirus as outbreaks increase and infections drive bed closures, adding to pressure already created by Covid.

Within the last two weeks NHS trusts have sent a warning over the impact of Norovirus on hospitals as 403 beds were closed due to patients with symptoms of the virus.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Foundation Trust warned the public last week to stay away from hospitals if they have Covid or upset stomachs as its staff were having to manage rising cases of Covid and norovirus related symptoms.

According to a post from NHS Grampian in Scotland Dr Gray’s hospital in Elgin had to close four wards as it has 23 staff and patients affected by an outbreak.

On 7 March, Walsall Healthcare Trust said: “People attending appointments or visiting patients at Walsall Manor Hospital within the circumstances currently allowed are being urged to make sure they stay away if they have sickness and diarrhoea.

Norovirus infection, often referred to as the winter vomiting bug, is easily transmissible and is currently affecting two wards in the hospital.”

University Hospitals of North Midlands said last week following an increase in norovirus activity that “it is possible that unusual or out-of-season increases could be seen in the coming months.”

Norovirus is a bug, sometimes called the “winter vomiting bug”, is a virus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea and usually last about two days. NHS hospitals have warned the virus is highly infectious.

Last week data from the UK Health Security Agency revealed norovirus outbreaks more than doubled in the second week of March compared to the first.

UKHSA said the increase was primarily due to increased outbreaks in educational settings, which accounted for 54 per cent of outbreaks, and care homes which accounted for 38 per cent.

Lesley Larkin, surveillance lead for Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety, UK Health Security Agency said last week: “Norovirus, commonly known as the vomiting bug, has been at lower levels than normal this season but as people have begun to mix more, the numbers of outbreaks have started to increase.”

NHS data on hospital bed closures due to diarrhoea and vomiting or norovirus symptoms in the same week showed 453 adult beds were closed on 13 March, which is the highest since the end of January.

The news comes as hospitals have faced increased bed pressures due to Covid in recent weeks.

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