A number of beds at Kettering Hospital have been closed to visitors after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug Norovirus.
Three bays in the hospital were temporarily closed, although one has now re-opened, after a number of patients caught the bug.
The hospital is also asking people who feel unwell with stomach bugs to stay away until they are better.
A spokesman said: “The hospital has had to close three hospital bays affecting 15 beds over the last three weeks as a routine infection control precaution to prevent the illness from spreading.
“One bay has been re-opened today (Thursday, December 11).
“Norovirus circulates in the local community every year and is particularly prevalent in the winter time.
“It is characterised by a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhoea.
“Hospitals close bays – and sometimes wards – to prevent the spread of the illness. Once a bay is closed the hospital puts in place additional cleaning and infection control procedures to prevent cross infection. The illness is self limiting and people recover within 12 to 48 hours.”
Kettering Hospital’s lead nurse for infection prevention and control, Pam Howe, said: “So far we have had 14 patients who have had these symptoms and six of these have been confirmed as norovirus.
“Norovirus is very infectious so we need to do everything we can to prevent it spreading in the hospital.”
The hospital os offering the following advice to patients and visitors:
- Not to visit A&E with diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms. Instead they should seek advice from their GP if symptoms persist beyond two days.
- Not to visit friends or relatives in hospital if they have been unwell with these symptoms themselves – or indeed with any illness that could be spread to other patients (colds or flu for example)
- To use the hand sanitiser on their hands when entering and leaving the hospital and wash their hands on entering and leaving ward areas
- To be prepared that if a relative is in a ward with a closed bay that visiting will be restricted and if they are in a closed bay visiting will be cancelled until the bay can be re-opened
Pam added: “Viruses like Norovirus are very common in the winter and they can have a significant impact on hospitals.
“The best way we can prevent this happening at Kettering Hospital is by ensuring people with these symptoms do not attend hospital unless they have complications which require hospital support.
“And clearly within the hospital itself we will carry out infection control procedures, such as closing bays, to prevent any further spread where cases have occurred.”