Health boss issues warning as cases of norovirus reported in Havering and Redbridge

Queen's Hospital

Queen's Hospital - Credit: Archant

A health boss has issued a warning that winter vomiting bug norovirus is spreading through the community.

Symptoms of the highly contagious virus include diarrhoea and vomiting.

Infection prevention and control experts and Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) are asking the public to help protect its community.

Stephen Burgess director of the BHRUT, which runs Queen’s and King George’s Hospitals, said: “Norovirus is one of the most infectious agents that we face in the NHS and it causes significant disruption to the services hospitals can provide. The virus always begins with spread in the wider community and then it gets into hospitals.

“I am hoping that the public will get behind us and stop more cases coming on to the wards.

“A similar campaign in our hospitals over the past two years proved incredibly successful. The number of bed days lost to the virus fell dramatically, with the our hospitals needing to close far fewer beds and wards.”

The trust has issued the following advice:

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1. If you get symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea, do not come into hospital to see your friends or relatives. You may give the virus to them as well as other patients and staff. The virus continues to shed from you even after you feel better so leave at least two days after you have stopped feeling unwell before you consider coming into hospital as a visitor.

2. Bringing in food for relatives in hospital could lead to an outbreak, so please be very hygienic if you are preparing this food at home. It is safer to bring in pre-wrapped food from a recognised commercial source.

3. Hands must be washed when you get to our hospitals and when you leave, at sinks on the wards. Alcohol gel is not effective against norovirus, but it can be washed off the hands with soap and water.

4. Use the alcohol gel provided frequently as this is effective against many other organisms. Dispensers are located throughout the hospitals.