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HOSPITAL CLOSES WARDS IN FIGHT TO STOP BUG; New admissions blocked by highly contagious virus.

Byline: By Andrew Heath

DESPERATE doctors at Warwick Hospital are into the fourth week of a battle to contain a virus.

Three wards at the hospital are closed to new admissions as health workers continue their struggle to beat the noro virus bug.

The highly contagious virus causes sickness and diarrhoea, and this week forced Coventry's University Hospital at Walsgrave to slash visiting hours to just an hour a day.

There are no restrictions on visiting hours on any of the wards, but bosses at the hospital are urging visitors feeling unwell to stay away to help stop the virus spreading further.

Cases of norovirus are unusually high in Coventry and Warwickshire at present, and the strain present at Warwick Hospital is thought to have been brought in by visitors and new patients.

Olivia Shaw, communications manager at Warwick Hospital, said: "It has been more of a problem this year than we have experienced before.

"Normally, an outbreak lasts for between seven and 10 days, but we are now into our fourth week, so it has been a bigger issue for us than normal.

"It is out there in the community to a greater extent than normal and obviously it affects the hospital.

"It is a community issue really. We advise anybody planning on visiting a relative who doesn't feel well to please stay away. In last month's team briefing we told staff the same thing and we have done work on it in our internal communications."

Mrs Shaw also asked people suffering from the virus to visit their GP and not the hospital's A&E department.

Norovirus affects all groups of people and is easily transmitted from one person to another. The virus can survive in an environment for several days.

It is particularly common in semi-closed environments such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels and cruise ships.

A spokeswoman for the Coventry and Warwickshire Health Protection Unit said there wasn't any major problems with the virus in local schools.

A spokesman for Rugby St Cross Hospital said they had had no major outbreaks of the bug this year.

The norovirus problem came to light after bosses at the University Hospital in Walsgrave appealed to the Telegraph to help them keep the public away.


WARWICK HOSPITAL... Cautious welcome.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 21, 2007
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