People planning to visit Walsall Manor Hospital or care homes in the borough are being urged to stay away if they have experienced sickness and diarrhoea in the previous three days to avoid passing on stomach bugs including norovirus to vulnerable patients and residents.
Such infections are very easily spread from person to person especially in places where groups of people are together for periods of time such as in care home and hospital environments.
Mr Amir Khan, Medical Director and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: “At this time of year stomach bugs such as norovirus are prevalent and we have had a number of confirmed cases in the Manor Hospital. This has meant that at present we have 3 wards partially or completely closed.
We have to work together, supported by the public, to do all we can to minimise the risk of such infections spreading as not only do they create a serious risk for our more vulnerable patients who have underlying health conditions or are frail and elderly, they also place pressure on our services. We are asking people not to visit hospitals and care homes to see relatives or friends if they have sickness and diarrhoea, or they have recently experienced these symptoms. This is because people may still carry the virus and infect others up to three days after their own symptoms have stopped. Also, relatives can pick up the virus in hospital and take it home with them - not what anyone wants over the Christmas period.
“We are also reiterating our appeal for anyone with symptoms to avoid turning up at our Emergency Department as this is not the most appropriate place for their care and treatment. We need to ensure staff in the department can prioritise those with life-threatening or serious conditions.”
The most effective precaution against norovirus is to wash hands regularly with soap and water, and not just rely on hand gel. The virus is relatively short lived and the only treatment required is to drink plenty of fluid to stay hydrated. Anyone concerned about symptoms, or has a condition that is being affected should contact their GP by telephone, or contact NHS 111 rather than go to the practice or health centre and risk spreading any infection.
If anyone has any concerns about being unable to visit a friend or relative in Walsall Manor Hospital, they should discuss this with the nurse in charge of the ward, who will consider the case of each patient on an individual basis. The nurse in charge can be contacted by calling the hospital’s switchboard on: 01922 721172.
People concerned about visiting a relative or friend living in a care home should phone the home beforehand for advice.