Waikato braces for bug

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 15:44 03/10/2012

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The number of patients affected with norovirus at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital continues to rise and clinics in the Waikato are on high alert.

Auckland public health officials said more people from the community have been admitted to Middlemore Hospital with gastroenteritis bringing the number of affected patients to 56 while 57 staff  have been affected.

Middlemore Hospital has now closed Ward 5 and Ward 34E has been set aside for acute admissions of norovirus.

Visitors are being asked to stay at home if they are unwell and children are only allowed on wards on compassionate grounds.

Strict hygiene procedures remain in place and people are being urged to wash heir hands thoroughly.

General manager at Anglesea Clinic, Andrew Campus  said local medical professionals are concerned that the outbreak might spread to the Waikato and are watching developments closely.

''At this stage everyone is monitoring the Waikato situation to see if anything develops from the Middlemore outbreak,'' Mr Campus said.

''You have got be aware that it is possible that it will spread down here.''

Anglesea Clinic has seen a high number of patients with gastric symptoms in recent weeks but Mr Campus said no cases are related to the norovirus outbreak.

''Over the past three weeks we have seen a spike in presentations of people with gastric and vomiting type symptoms  but we are thinking it's more of the tail end of the winter flu season more than anything.''

General manager of Radius Hamilton Dr Navin Rajan said his clinic is also experiencing a large number of patients arriving with gastric symptoms.

''We are actually receiving quite a number of cases of diarrhoea and tummy bug so something is definitely happening in Hamilton,'' he said.

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