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Norovirus shuts four hospital wards

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Winter vomiting bug spreads at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading because of cold, dry weather

THE Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading closed four wards this week to prevent the spread of the norovirus in the hospital.

The first ward shut on Monday, and two of the wards were reopened this morning (Thursday), with the others scheduled to reopen tomorrow.

Some planned surgery at the hospital has also been delayed, but outpatient appointments and day surgery remain unaffected.

The norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is a common cold weather bug and not specific to hospitals, but it is highly contagious and patients with already depleted immune systems are highly susceptible to it.

Royal Berkshire Hospital spokesman Joe Wise said: “If we find one person suffering from the disease, we will close that bay, but if a two or three people in a ward catches it, it is better to just close the ward.”

He said that the cold, dry weather makes the perfect breeding ground for the norovirus and it can easily be brought into the hospital by visitors.

“People who suffered from the virus are asked not to come into the hospital in the first few days after they recovered. You remain contagious for 48 hours after the symptoms stop,” Mr Wise added.

Other local hospitals have also been affected by the norovirus recently.

The Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital closed parts of a ward on the medical floor for a couple of days at the end of last year and visiting hours were restricted.

During the same period, the Saturn Ward at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon was also closed for the same reason.

Symptoms of the norovirus include vomiting and diarrhoea and it spreads quickly person to person.

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