Wards in lock-down as norovirus spreads

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 15:12 03/10/2012
middlemore
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax Media
MIDDLEMORE HOSPITAL: Fifty staff and 51 patients have contracted norovirus.

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LATEST: The number of people infected with norovirus at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital has risen rapidly.

On Saturday four patients and eight staff at the hospital had been infected, but that number jumped to more than 100 today.

Middlemore spokeswoman Lauren Young said 57 staff had been sent home with the virus and 56 patients were affected.

She said there had been several admissions over the past 24 hours and "secondary transmission has occurred to staff and patients in more than one ward".

Young said no children would be allowed into wards unless on compassionate grounds and ward five had been closed. Another ward was being used for norovirus admissions only.

The hospital said anybody visiting patients needed to be healthy and symptom-free for at least two days.

Visitors are being made to perform "rigorous" hand washing before and after leaving the hospital.

Norovirus causes nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Young said a member of the public brought the virus into the hospital.

People in contact with infected patients are wearing gowns and gloves to avoid it being spread, she said.

In Tauranga, about 30 hospital patients were said to have contracted the virus but that number had been downgraded today to less than 20.

Bay of Plenty health officials have advised the public to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital.

Last week outbreaks of norovirus and rotavirus were reported at Wellington childcare centres and resthomes.

Regional Public Health had responded to outbreaks of gastroenteritis at four childcare centres and two rest homes since the beginning of the month, medical officer of health Jill McKenzie said.

The number of outbreaks was higher than usual and indicated stomach bugs were circulating in the community.

"The nature of these bugs is they don't tend to infect one person because their viruses are quite infectious.

"It's a good reminder to stay away from work and childcare centres and that people can be infectious even after they feel better."

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