Virus on the wane

Timaru Hospital
Timaru Hospital

The tally of patients and staff affected by a potential norovirus outbreak at Timaru Hospital has dropped from 15 to six.

South Canterbury District Health Board communications manager Nicola Prue said five patients were in the medical ward experiencing diarrhoea or diarrhoea and vomiting - the characteristics of norovirus or a similar virus, while one staff member was on sick leave with those symptoms.

Currently only the medical ward was affected and was being used as a containment area for the hospital, Prue said.

"Patients affected, and six other patients who have been in contact with affected patients, are in isolation in medical ward as a precaution due to the highly contagious nature of this virus,'' she said.

The doors of the medical ward will be closed during the normal working day and will be locked once the receptionist is not on duty and till 8am tomorrow.

Family members have been contacted and advised not to visit unless absolutely necessary in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus, and the health board is still advising people to keep hospital visits to a minimum.

''If you are experiencing any norovirus symptoms like diarrhoea and/or vomiting or any flu like symptoms, do not visit patients or relatives until at least 48 hours after all symptoms have resolved.''

In the last month, two Timaru rest homes have experienced a lockdown because of people showing symptoms similar to norovirus.

The Timaru Herald