Alert over rising levels of norovirus in Lothian hospitals

Three wards have been closed due to norovirus outbreaks. Photo: Peter Byrne
Three wards have been closed due to norovirus outbreaks. Photo: Peter Byrne
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Health officials have issued a warning amid soaring levels of the winter vomiting bug in Lothian.

New figures from Health Protection Scotland (HPS) show that 23 patients were struck down with norovirus as of Monday, compared to none during the previous week.

NHS bosses were forced to close a ward at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to prevent the spread of the infection, although it has now reopened.

Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “A number of patients at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh were previously displaying symptoms of Norovirus.

“We have strict infection control procedures in place and are managing and reviewing the situation on a daily basis, which has improved over the last few days.”

Norovirus is highly infectious stomach bug, causing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

In most cases it will pass after a few days but it can be dangerous in vulnerable elderly patients and people who are already ill.

Lisa Ritchie, a HPS nurse consultant, said: “To help reduce the risk of outbreaks in hospitals, care settings and the wider community, we are again asking members of the public who think they have norovirus to stay at home until at least 48 hours after any symptoms have stopped.

“As norovirus is so infectious, it is important that everyone plays their part in reducing the risk of outbreaks.

“To do this, hospitals may suspend access to particular wards to protect patients, staff and visitors from norovirus and to minimise disruption to healthcare services.”