Stay home with sickness bug, advises NHS

Local health services are asking you to stay at home if you’re suffering with sickness and diarrhoea to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Doctors at Southampton General Hospital are seeing large numbers of people attending the emergency department with no other symptoms than sickness instead of requesting advice by phone from their GP or NHS 111.

Four wards are currently temporarily closed to new admissions at Southampton General Hospital as a result of norovirus – known as the winter vomiting bug – with bays closed on another four wards at SGH and one ward at the Princess Anne Hospital.

As the virus is highly contagious, temporary visitor restrictions have been put in place, with people urged to stay away unless their visit is absolutely essential or has been agreed by the relevant department.

Dr Graeme Jones, director of the infection prevention unit, said: “Diarrhoea and vomiting is currently widespread in the community among all ages and the most effective way to prevent spread among vulnerable hospital patients is for people to avoid visiting us if at all possible.

“We are still seeing people self-present to our emergency department with no other symptoms but sickness and it is really important these people avoid coming to us when other options for advice are available.

He added: “For those who do have urgent medical problems but are also suffering from sickness or diarrhoea or have been in contact with someone who has symptoms they should tell staff about it immediately so they can be treated separately to avoid risk of spread.” 

Dr Zaid Hirmiz, clinical lead for unscheduled care at NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), added: “We completely understand that people want to visit friends and family in hospital but, where possible, it's really important that people keep away from hospital and healthcare settings at the moment, as this makes a significant difference in keeping the infection under control.

“Norovirus is a virulent bug that can remain active on hard surfaces for days, so it can easily re-infect people. Disinfection of surfaces that have come into contact with the virus is really important and a bleach-based solution is most effective at destroying it. Washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water is best as most alcohol gels do not kill the virus.

“If you are unfortunate enough to contract norovirus, please stay at home while symptoms persist, and for at least 48 hours after they have subsided. However, if you’re intending to visit any health setting, such as a hospital, care home or GP surgery, please wait at least 72 hours because the virus can be more serious in those who are already ill."

Dr Sarah Schofield, Clinical Chair of NHS West Hampshire CCG, said: “Most people can manage their symptoms at home without any medical intervention, but if symptoms persist for more than few days, please do contact your GP for advice. Also, if the virus affects young children or the elderly, you may need to take advice from your GP earlier. Ring your practice or call NHS 111 and they will be able to advise over the phone.”

For more information on norovirus, visit NHS Choices.

Hygiene tips

  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and frequently, particularly after all episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting and before eating food.
  • Disinfect immediately any hard surfaces that you’ve touched.
  • Do not share towels or flannels which, along with bedding, should be washed at temperatures of 60 degrees.
  • The virus is highly contagious and can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person, so these measures will reduce the risk of spreading it to others.

Press release courtesy of West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
Posted on Friday 19 December 2014