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Help Us Beat Norovirus Bristol Christmas

23 December 2008

Hospitals across Bristol are reminding people to avoid visiting if they have had symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting in the previous 48 hours.
Over the past few weeks, cases of Norovirus - the winter vomiting virus - have increased in the community.
Norovirus is brought into hospitals from the local community and is easily spread by contact with people suffering diarrhoea and vomiting who may have contaminated the environment. Some patients do not realise they are already incubating the virus when they attend hospital.
Airborne spread occurs during episodes of vomiting, to those in close proximity at the time.
Symptoms appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus and can last for up to three days.
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust, which between them run all the NHS hospitals in Bristol, are asking people with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting not to present themselves for initial treatment at Accident and Emergency departments - they should first contact their GP or out-of-hours service for advice.
Those due to come into the hospital for an operation or appointment and have symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting should phone ahead to let the nursing staff know and to get further advice.
Every year most UK hospitals, and also many schools and nursing homes are affected by Norovirus.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust is continuing to restrict its visiting hours.  Visiting will only take place between 2pm - 3pm and 7pm - 8pm - two visitors only will be allowed per hour visiting session with no change of visitors during a single visiting session.  These visiting hours will remain the same over the Christmas period.

North Bristol NHS Trust restricted its visiting hours two years ago and these remain the same - 2.30pm-4.30pm and 6.30pm-8pm.
In addition both organisations are asking parents not to bring children under the age of 11 to visit. These restrictions currently exclude childrens and maternity wards. Exceptions to these rules may be authorised by the ward sister or the nurse in charge in extraordinary circumstances. Please discuss with ward staff or phone ahead of your visit, if you have any questions.

Corinne Thomas, Director of Nursing at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: "We strongly urge visitors with symptoms to please avoid visiting the hospital until symptoms have completely settled for two days. If a visitor has recently had diarrhoea or vomiting, we ask that they phone ahead to the ward for advice.
"We are totally committed to controlling the spread of infections in our hospitals and have a dedicated and highly skilled infection control team that ensures all staff are aware of the symptoms and control measures for this virus.
"However, it's just as important for members of the public to work with us to help prevent the spread of Norovirus infection."
Christine Perry, Assistant Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust said: We appreciate that some visitors may find these restricted visiting times difficult especially over the Christmas period. However, it is essential for the Trust to manage infection control to the best of our ability.

Both Trusts are also asking visitors not to bring in food that could stay on lockers unwrapped such as crisps, chocolates, fruit or cake. Instead visitors are being asked to bring items that are individually wrapped.