Norovirus, better known as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages and at this time of year has started to circulate in the community.

Outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person and sometimes we do have to close wards to new patients with notices clearly displayed at ward entrances.

In hospitals we have patients who are already ill and they can sometimes get quite poorly as this illness can interfere with the effectiveness of the medicines they are taking and also make them weak and dehydrated.

That’s why it’s really important that people who have had the bug do not visit relatives in hospital until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours to avoid it spreading.

Help us by:

  • Not visiting friends or relatives, if you have the bug, until you are fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
  • Checking with us about coming in for your hospital appointment if you have these symptoms.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly at all times – particularly after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Staying clear of accident and emergency if you think you have the illness. Stay at home and drink plenty of fluids. If you are still ill after a few days contact your own GP.

As there is no specific cure, you have to let Norovirus run its course, but it should not last more than a couple of days.

If you get the bug, make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration but there are a range of options to help you get back on your feet ranging from pharmacists, who offer free and quick advice to help treat symptoms at home, over the counter medicines which are safe and effective, to GP surgeries and NHS 111.

Please remember to keep A & E for serious and life-threatening emergencies only!

How to stop it spreading

The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands. You can also catch it through contaminated food or drink or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.

The following measures should help prevent the virus from spreading further:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Do not share towels and flannels.
  • Disinfect any surfaces that an infected person has touched.