Recorded cases of the norovirus contagious bug have surged from last year across Hampshire and the wider South East.
The illness often associated with diarrhoea and nausea, also called the winter vomiting bug, affected 31 people during the week commencing 18 November, up from 16 in 2018.
Speaking to the Daily Echo, Dr Girija Dabke, public health consultant and lead for gastrointestinal illness for PHE South East, commented, ‘The increase in norovirus that we’re seeing is common for this time of year and is in keeping with what we are seeing across the wider country. In recent weeks we have seen outbreaks in schools and care homes, as the infection is more widespread in settings where people are in close contact‘.
The outbreak has been particularly severe in the North Hampshire area, with Basingstoke Hospital taking the extreme step of advising visitors not to attend at all and restricting visiting hours to between 6pm to 8pm.
A spokesperson for the hospital said:
Visiting will only be permitted outside of these hours in the most exceptional circumstances and must be cleared with the matron responsible for the ward in advance in each case. The situation will be kept under constant review and this page will be updated daily.
Two weeks ago, Southampton General Hospital was forced to close bays on six wards, and multiple schools including New Milton Junior School suffered closures and ill students.
The NHS recommends the following measures for protecting against, and dealing with, norovirus:
- Stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. You should also avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing or handling food. Don’t rely on alcohol hand gels, as they do not kill the virus.
- Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated. It’s best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated separately on a hot wash (60 °C) to ensure the virus is killed.
- Don’t share towels and flannels.
- Flush away any poo or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding area with a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce and only eat oysters from a reliable source, as oysters can carry norovirus.