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Royal Berks Hospital still plagued by norovirus

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Three wards closed, with the situation expected to continue "for some time", says Reading hospital

THREE wards at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading remain closed today (Monday) to prevent the spread of the norovirus, following identification of patients suffering the virus.

The first ward shut last Monday, and by Wednesday evening, four were shut.

A spokesman for the hospital, Joe Wise said this afternoon: “As soon as one ward is opened, a patient is discovered in another ward suffering the condition, so realistically it is going to be the case for some time that wards will open and close in tandem.”

Mr Wise stressed that the virus affected a relatively small number of people: “Across the hospital, it is affecting a phenomenally small number of people, far less than twenty.”

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.

Mr 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.

Mr Wise said that the best way to stop the spread of the disease was good hand hygiene.

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.

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