Sickness bug is set to return to hospital wards

Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

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HOSPITAL chiefs are bracing themselves for further outbreaks of the winter vomiting bug that forced a number of wards to close.

Although hospitals appeared to be winning the battle to fend off the recent outbreak of norovirus, health bosses fear the worst may still be to come over the coming weeks.

They have said January and February is traditionally the peak time for the outbreak of the virus, with December’s cases arising earlier than in previous years.

At its height eight wards were closed at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Mexborough Montagu Hospital.

But stringent hygiene, and advice for visitors to take precautions against bringing the norovirus into hospital, had led to a dramatic improvement in the situation over the past few days.

But hospital managers say they are not being complacent and accept the battle is not yet won.

A spokesman for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Although the number of norovirus cases has significantly reduced, norovirus can re-occur at any time and this outbreak was earlier than usual.

“Norovirus is usually worse in the January and February period.”

The trust stressed that good hand hygiene was the key to preventing the spread of norovirus, whether in hospital or at home.

There has been reports of hand gel used to kill the germs being stolen by visitors to Bassetlaw Hospital.

The spokesman added: “We recommend that people wash their hands after use of the toilet and periodically throughout the day, especially if they are in public areas.

“We are still asking the public to refrain from visiting hospital and to come only if it is absolutely necessary.

“Anyone with diarrhoea and vomiting is asked to stay away and not risk bringing infections into hospital.

“If people have had diarrhoea and vomiting, they should please wait at least 48 hours after being clear of the symptoms before coming in to hospital.

“These simple measures will help to protect vulnerable patients.”

At the end of last week there was only one ward fully closed at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

There were no new cases - but some patients are said to be “still symptomatic” on that ward, the hospital trust said.