Hospital ward closed after norovirus alert

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A SUSPECTED outbreak of the winter vomiting bug at Conquest Hospital was caused by a visitor who had earlier been to see an infected patient in Bexhill..

Baird ward, which has 28 beds, was shut to new admissions on Sunday as bosses said six patients displayed symptoms of the virus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

The ward remained shut yesterday (Thursday) as the Observer went to press.

One ward at the Conquest’s sister hospital, Eastbourne DGH, has been similarly affected, along with the Irvine Unit at Bexhill Hospital.

The Irvine Unit was reopened on Wednesday.

Bosses at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs all the hospitals, said 25 patients were suffering from symptoms by Tuesday and there were five confirmed norovirus cases, two of which were at the Conquest.

Dr Barry Phillips, the trust’s director of infection prevention and control, said: “Norovirus is highly infectious. To help contain it we have restricted the movement of patients around the hospital and introduced stringent infection control measures.

“It is very important to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with someone who is ill and after using the toilet, especially if you are suffering from symptoms.

“The public can help contain the spread of this virus by not visiting friends or relatives in hospital if they are experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting and feel unwell with gastrointestinal symptoms.

“This is highlighted by the fact that the incident at Conquest has been caused by a visitor who had previously been visiting an infected patient at Bexhill.

“If you are visiting a relative or friend in hospital we do not recommend storing food in open containers in ward areas such as fruit bowls so bring food gifts for patients in sealable containers only.”

If anyone experiences symptoms and feels unwell they should not visit friends or relatives in hospital until they are free of symptoms for at least 48 hours. “Failure to do this increases the risk of spreading the infection to patients and staff in hospital.”