HEALTH bosses are urging people to stay at home if they fall ill this winter – and stop the disease spreading.
Figures released by Public Health England (PHE) show there were six hospital outbreaks in the North East in the last two weeks of November, all resulting in bed closures.
Norovirus – also known as the winter vomiting bug – is highly infectious and can spread rapidly in communities such as hospitals, care homes, sheltered housing accommodation and schools.
Dr Ian Pattison, chairman of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The first sign is usually a sudden sick feeling followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea, which occurs 24 to 48 hours after you have been infected.
“Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days.
“However, winter vomiting is spread very easily from person to person, so take care with hand washing and general hygiene to protect the rest of your family.
“It’s very important indeed that care is taken not to infect other vulnerable people, such as older people or those with a lower immune system like diabetics.
“So please do not go to your GP, A&E or any other health clinic unless it is absolutely necessary, as you risk infecting other people.”
Symptoms should begin to improve after 48 hours, but may continue for up to seven days – but if vomiting is still happening after 48 hours or if the diarrhoea is not beginning to settle after four days, people should telephone your GP for advice.
Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for NHS England’s Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team, also urged people affected to take care to not spread it. He said: “Hospitals are often under pressure around winter, and this can be made worse if bugs like norovirus enter wards.
“These bugs can pass quickly between visitors, patients and staff, which can result in staff being off ill, beds becoming unavailable and appointments being postponed.”