Health organisations in the county are urging people to take care with hand hygiene to help reduce the spread of winter bugs in healthcare settings.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are asking the public to help stop the spread of diarrhoea and vomiting, known as norovirus.
Health leaders are urging people to ‘keep calm’ and look after themselves at home if they develop symptoms of norovirus and also follow the 48-hour symptom-free rule before returning to work or visiting relatives in hospitals or care homes.
Diane Sisterson, lead nurse for infection prevention and control at the trust, said: “It is vital that anyone who is feeling unwell themselves and has symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea, or has been looking after children with these symptoms, does not visit any loved ones in hospitals or care homes until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
“This is because you can still be infectious up to 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped and you may risk infecting patients who are much more vulnerable than you.”
People are also being reminded of the importance of washing hands thoroughly with soap and water to stop the spread of norovirus.
Dr Alistair Blair, of NHS Northumberland CCG, said: “People in hospital or care homes are often elderly, vulnerable patients and norovirus can be particularly nasty and can result in lengthened stays and make recovery from their original illness much longer.
“We know there is a lot of norovirus circulating in the community at present and we are asking members of the public suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting not to visit friends or relatives in hospital until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
“We are also urging people to keep calm if they do develop norovirus symptoms as we know that sickness and diarrhoea are best treated by staying at home, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest while the virus runs its course which usually only lasts a few days.”
Advice is available online at www.nhs.uk
For more on the regional NHS ‘Keep Calm’ campaign visit www.keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk