Three wards get all-clear

ALTHOUGH the number of norovirus cases at Hinchingbrooke Hospital remained at 25 yesterday (Tuesday), three of the five closed wards have re-opened to admissions. But visitors are still warned to stay away unless asked to go in by ward managers. A number

ALTHOUGH the number of norovirus cases at Hinchingbrooke Hospital remained at 25 yesterday (Tuesday), three of the five closed wards have re-opened to admissions.

But visitors are still warned to stay away unless asked to go in by ward managers.

A number of hospital staff are also affected by the virus, a spokesman said yesterday.

Lime and Maple wards will remain closed to inpatient admissions until 48 hours after the last incidence of symptoms.

"The situation will be continually reviewed to assess if and when affected wards can be reopened," the spokesman said.

"We also ask members of the public considering attending the accident and emergency department with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting to contact NHS Direct, their GP or their GP's out-of-hours service, in the first instance."

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Hinchingbrooke's maternity unit is not affected, but visiting has been restricted to partners only. The treatment centre and outpatient appointments also remain unaffected.

The outbreak is being closely monitored by the hospital trust, the East of England Strategic Health Authority and Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust with the aim of bringing it to a conclusion as quickly as possible, she said.

Darren Leech, sustainable hospital services director at Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, said: "We again thank the public for staying away from wards during this outbreak. Restricting visiting will help us to control the numbers of infections.

"Everyone at the hospital, especially our nursing and cleaning staff, is focused on controlling this outbreak, while maintaining excellent patient care."

Norovirus is the most frequent cause of infectious gastro-enteritis in England and Wales. It is also known as the "winter vomiting virus" because of its seasonality and typical symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

The symptoms usually last from 12 to 60 hours and may start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

Norovirus affects people of all ages. Most people recover very quickly but immunity to it is short-lived and it is easily transmitted from one person to another. It thrives in semi-closed environments where large numbers of people congregate, so schools, nursing homes and hospitals are most affected.

INFORMATION: Patients with scheduled admissions should call 01480 416420 or 01480 363678 for further information.

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