HINCHINGBROOKE Hospital in Huntingdon is now free of the vomiting and diarrhoea virus that has swept through the community and caused ward closures in December. Norovirus - also called "winter vomiting disease" - is an unpleasant, but short-lived condition that is highly infectious. Risk of passing on the virus is minimised by good hygiene practices. Yesterday (Tuesday), a Hinchingbrooke spokesman told The Hunts Post: "We currently have no cases and no wards closed, though we did have one patient showing symptoms last week. "But we shall keep a close eye on it because it's not unusual to get a second wave." The Health Protection Agency has issued advice to the public on how to deal with the condition and minimise risk of infecting others. Dr Pat Nair, director of the agency's Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire health protection unit, said: "We are receiving increasing reports of D&V across the region resulting from norovirus infection, which this is common at this time of the year. "Norovirus is highly infectious and can easily spread to other family members or to other people in closed communities such as schools, care homes, sheltered housing and hospitals. "Because it's caused by a virus there is no specific treatment apart from letting it run its course. "People with the infection should not visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes, and stay away from work or school until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours." Dr Nair stressed that good hygiene is the key to avoiding the infection and preventing spread where it has occurred. "The best way to protect yourself and other people is through good hygiene: this includes thorough hand-washing with warm soapy water, especially after using the toilet. Contaminated surfaces should be thoroughly disinfected after an episode of illness, and it is important to remember to clean bathroom taps, flush handles\/buttons and door handles. "Towels and flannels should not be shared with people who are unwell, and food preparation should also be avoided by anyone who is unwell until at least two days after symptoms have stopped." Dr Liz Robin, director of public health at Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, said: "We are used to dealing with norovirus at this time of year. It is not normally a serious disease and there are generally no long-term effects following infection. "It is not an officially notifiable disease, so we do not gather data on the majority of cases, although there is anecdotal evidence that this is a particularly bad year for outbreaks.