Norovirus causes hospital ward to close until further notice

Medical Ward One at the Western Islands Hospital in Stornoway was closed to medical admissions until further notice.

A hospital ward in the Western Isles has been closed to new admissions until further notice after an increase in winter vomiting bug case numbers.

To help prevent the spread of norovirus, Medical Ward One at the Western Islands Hospital in Stornoway was closed to medical admissions until further notice, with the exception of patients requiring admission to the high dependency unit and paediatric patients.

The health board said that norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. While it can be very unpleasant, it usually goes away in about two days.   

It closed the ward because if it spreads across hospitals or care homes, it can be dangerous for those who are most vulnerable and can also cause significant service disruption.   

The main symptoms of norovirus are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

An incident management team has been established to ensure all necessary measures are in place to prevent further spread within the ward.   

Friends and relatives of inpatients are being asked to only visit if necessary and to restrict the number of people visiting patients to ensure our patients are protected, but also to ensure that visitors do not contract norovirus. 

NHS Western Isles medical director, Dr Frank McAuley, said: “If you have norovirus, you can usually treat yourself or your child at home. The most important thing is to rest and have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. 

“You will usually start to feel better in two to three days. It’s important that you stay off school, nursery or work until you have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 48 hours – as this is when you are most infectious. It’s also very important that you do not visit hospitals or care homes during that infectious period.” 

Norovirus can spread very easily and you can catch norovirus from close contact with someone with the illness, touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them, then touching your mouth or eating food that’s been prepared or handled by someone with norovirus.

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading and alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus.  

If you have symptoms that you are concerned about, you should phone your GP or NHS24 on 111 for advice – please do not attend your GP Practice without contacting the surgery if you have symptoms.  

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