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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

Norovirus reminder for Islanders

19 April 2013

Islanders are being reminded not to visit the General Hospital and other Health and Social Services buildings if they have any symptoms of norovirus.

In the last few days, Jersey has been experiencing increasing problems with norovirus infections, though levels had fallen after the winter outbreak. Norovirus spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools, nursing and residential homes and hotels. 

Samares Ward at Overdale Hospital has been closed during the previous week and has re-opened today. No Jersey General Hospital wards are closed; however, small sections within some hospital wards are closed, because of suspected norovirus. These include areas on Beauport, Corbiere and Portelet wards.

Measures are being pursued to prevent and reduce the impact of norovirus on the hospital including increased cleaning and signage in HSSD buildings to remind people of the risk to patients in the hospital if they have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Infectious virus

Gary Kynman, HSSD Deputy Director of Operations, said "It is evident there is increasing numbers of suspected norovirus cases within the island community. It is important every islander plays their part in trying to slow down the spread of this highly infectious virus, particularly in public places and catering establishments. During the last week, some visitors to the hospital have themselves been ill with symptoms of nausea and vomiting, placing patients at risk. We are asking Islanders not to come into the hospital to visit relatives and friends if they feel unwell."

Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) in the British Isles. The illness is generally self-limiting, although the symptoms can be very unpleasant while they last, often with sudden onset , often uncontrollable, projectile vomiting and /or diarrhoea.  Most people usually recover fully within two to three days. The best advice is to keep as well hydrated as possible, by drinking little and often while the symptoms last.

Medical advice

Dr Susan Turnbull, Medical Officer for Health, said "Unless there is severe dehydration, it is very unusual to need hospital treatment in people who are normally healthy. People with pre-existing serious medical conditions should, as with any new symptoms, seek early advice from their GP.  Even for the previously healthy, if vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms persist for more than three or four days, then medical advice should be sought from a GP.  Anyone who is worried at any stage that their symptoms are severe, and especially if there is pain, should contact a GP urgently for advice. However, please don’t go to the GP’s surgery, and especially not to the hospital, unless specifically advised by a doctor to do so."

"There are no long term effects that result from norovirus infection. Antibiotics are ineffective against it, as they are against any other viral infections. This virus is particularly problematic because it is highly contagious – spreading easily by contact with an infected person, eating contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.  It is because profuse vomiting is such a common symptom that surfaces easily become contaminated, so further people easily get infected if they touch  surfaces that are not thoroughly decontaminated and if hands are not washed regularly."

HSSD advice is:

  • be more vigilant than usual about washing hands frequently and thoroughly
  • make sure contaminated surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, ideally wearing plastic or rubber gloves and using detergent and then diluted bleach

When acute symptoms of vomiting start that could be norovirus, people should:

  • go home from work, or from school as soon as practically possible
  • do not come to the hospital, or go to a GP surgery (and risk infecting others)
  • do not return to work/school until 48 hours after all symptoms have passed including vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps

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