Hospital warning after sick cruise

HEALTH authorities are urging sickly visitors to stay away from hospitals to prevent the spread of disease.Prompted by the plight of the Mediterranean cruise hit by the Norwalk virus, the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority has warned that 'closed' communities like hospitals are prone to the same problem.

HEALTH authorities are urging sickly visitors to stay away from hospitals to prevent the spread of disease.

Prompted by the plight of the Mediterranean cruise hit by the Norwalk virus, the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority has warned that 'closed' communities like hospitals are prone to the same problem.

The virus-hit cruise liner Aurora was homeward bound today after leaving behind Gibraltar and a political storm in Anglo-Spanish relations.

The P&O luxury ship is due back in Britain on Thursday complete with its 1,800 passengers, 500 of who were struck down by a highly contagious bug.


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Right across the country, the Norwalk or 'winter-vomiting disease' hits hospitals – leading to ward closures in some cases. This year the Health Authority is keen to reduce the risk of the airborne virus as much as possible by warning the public to stay away if they have been suffering the symptoms.

The bug is not generated by hospitals but brought in by visitors and spread person-to-person.

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The symptoms of the disease include diarrhoea and vomiting, and the illness lasts for 24-48 hours. There is no specific treatment – managing the infection generally involves letting the illness take its course, and drinking lots of water to prevent dehydration.

Said Dr Tony Jewell, Director of Public Health at the Strategic Health Authority: "People who have had these symptoms should stay away and telephone friends and relatives instead. It is also important that if you have the symptoms of flu or a cold you should think twice about a hospital visit. The public is also advised to wash their hands before entering wards to help to prevent the spread of infection to vulnerable patients in hospitals across the region."

The Strategic Health Authority has made awareness posters available to each Trust in the region. These posters advise the public not to visit friends and relatives in hospital if they are suffering from sickness and diarrhoea, and to wait at least 48 hours before visiting again.

The public is reminded that free flu vaccinations are available for the over-65s and at risk groups. Please contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 for more information.

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