Visitors to Lincoln County Hospital are being advised that they must stay away in all but exceptional circumstances, while the hospital is managing an extensive outbreak of the winter vomiting bug norovirus.
A large number of medical wards at the hospital are closed or restricting admissions due to ongoing cases of the bug. This is a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. The affected areas will reopen to admissions once the patients have either been discharged and/or the area has been symptom-free for 72 hours.
Due to the serious nature of the outbreak, restrictions are being placed on the number of visitors permitted into the hospitals. Anyone visiting a relative will be asked if they have had any symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting in the past 72 hours, and will not be permitted to visit if they have.
Visiting restrictions will be enforced on a case-by-case basis, and where visitors are allowed, the number of visitors per patient should be strictly limited to a maximum of two at a time in all but exceptional circumstances. No children will be permitted to enter medical wards during this outbreak.
Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We have seen a high number of wards affected by this outbreak of norovirus, with a number of patients being admitted into hospital with the virus. Exceptionally, we have also seen that those suffering from norovirus have taken longer than we would usually expect to recover, often due to the frail nature of these patients.
“We are taking the action to restrict hospital visiting in order to limit the spread of the virus and to protect our vulnerable patients.”
The virus is not uncommon in the winter. These stomach bugs are highly contagious and can spread rapidly in places like hospitals who see hundreds of visitors every day.
“We know that sometimes people feel that they must take every opportunity to visit their sick friends or relatives, particularly at Christmas. However if they have been unwell, they could be putting others at risk. Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and, just like flu, the virus can seriously affect vulnerable patients.
“If you have norovirus symptoms, please do not attend A&E. The best thing you can do is rest, and take plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.”
People worried about prolonged symptoms should contact NHS 111 or ring their GP, not visit their surgery. They will be able to provide advice for people who are at greater risk from dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as children under the age of five or the elderly.