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Public urged to ‘visit responsibly’ to protect patients from sickness bug

Published: 14 May 2015

Hospital staff are appealing to families and friends wanting to visit patients in Torbay Hospital to ‘visit responsibly’ to help reduce the spread of the sickness bug, Norovirus.

Norovirus causes sickness and diarrhoea and is a common virus which circulates in the community and although usually more prevalent in the winter can occur at any time. Most people will recover from the bug within a few days, but will remain contagious for some time after the symptoms have disappeared. For hospital patients, who can often be more vulnerable due to existing illness or injury, the bug can have a more serious impact on their health.

We have three wards currently affected by the virus. Specialist infection control and cleaning teams from South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital, are working hard to deal with the outbreak, but need the cooperation of both visitors and patients.

Dr Selina Hoque, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that people place great value on being able to visit loved ones in hospital, but when we are experiencing infection outbreaks in the community and in hospitals they can unknowingly put patients’ health at risk.”

“Norovirus rarely requires medical treatment but for those who are already ill it can be more serious. It also makes it more complicated for us to provide care in the hospital.”

“It is vitally important we protect our patients and we have well established systems in place to do this. However, we really need visitors and members of the public to assist us by visiting responsibly.”

“If you are feeling unwell, or actually have diarrhoea or vomiting, please don’t come into the hospital as a visitor for at least 48 hours after the last symptom has disappeared. If you become unwell whilst you are visiting then please tell someone in charge, even if you were ill in a toilet. Also, if you are due to attend for an operation or for an outpatient appointment and have been ill then please ring the hospital and let them know.”

The symptoms of norovirus infection begin around 12 to 48 hours after a person becomes infected. Symptoms can last for 12 to 60 hours. They start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people will have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs. Most people make a full recovery within one or two days.

The most effective way to avoid the infection is through good hand washing, using soap and warm water rather than special hand-gels, particularly after using the toilet and before eating and drinking anything. This is especially important if others in the house are unwell.

For most cases of Norovirus the best thing to do is rest and make sure you are getting plenty of fluids. If you are worried about being ill, particularly if you feel that you are becoming dehydrated, please call your GP surgery for advice or dial 111 for advice. NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time – it’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Alternatively, for online healthcare advice, visit

Torbay Hospital’s switchboard can be contacted on 0300 456 8000 (local rate) or 01803 614567.