VISITING restrictions have been lifted at St Mary’s Hospital, after Isle of Wight NHS said there had been a substantial improvement in the control of a norovirus outbreak.
Since early last month, wards have been closed, operations cancelled and visits restricted, after an outbreak of the highly contagious vomiting and diarrhoea bug.
New cases were detected this weekend but health bosses said the outbreak had almost been eradicated.
Executive director of nursing and workforce Alan Sheward said: "We’re very grateful to patients, visitors, volunteers and staff who through their continued hand hygiene and other actions have helped to control and nearly eradicate the recent outbreak of norovirus at St Mary's Hospital.
"Following a review of weekend activity, during which a handful of new cases continue to appear at the hospital, the visitor restrictions at the hospital have been lifted but we are still asking everyone to be vigilant. If everyone continues to adhere to the guidance we will minimise the chance of the hospital being affected in the same way again."
He added said it remained vital that anyone with symptoms, or who had been in contact with someone with symptoms, stays at home for 48 hours to avoid the illness spreading.
He sad: "Our teams of staff and volunteers have worked incredibly hard over the last three weeks to control this outbreak. They have worked extra hours to cover for colleagues who have been ill, ensured that as many beds as possible can be kept open, contacted patients to rearrange appointments and operations and staffed a rota at the main hospital entrance to ensure that anyone entering or leaving cleanses their hands.
"They are a fantastic bunch of people who really have the best interests of patients and the hospital at heart."
Further details of symptoms of norovirus are available on the NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk
The NHS advised that keeping hydrated was very important, particularly for the elderly and the very young who were most at risk. If symptoms persist, telephone NHS 111.
Good hand hygiene using soap and water is important during outbreaks of norovirus as it is highly contagious. Thorough cleaning of hard surfaces with a bleach solution, paying particular attention to the toilet and toilet area, will help to reduce the spread of the virus.
The following visiting restrictions continue:
• Anyone who has had symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, must not come into the hospital until they have been clear of those symptoms for at least 48 hours.
• Visiting has now returned to normal between 2pm and 3pm, and 7pm and 8pm daily on the Wards. There are some clinical areas, such as Intensive Care and the Children’s Ward, where there is a more flexible arrangement. No more than two visitors per patient and babies and young children should, if possible, not be brought into the hospital.
• Visitors and patients are asked to ensure they cleanse their hands on entering and leaving the hospital (this stops other germs) and entering and leaving clinical areas. This must be a mixture of both hand gel (at the main entrance) and using soap and water in available hand basins — either in toilets or on the ward being visited.
• Patients visiting the Beacon Health Centre and Emergency Department should only be accompanied by one other person if possible.