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Trust issues Norovirus advice

People in County Durham and Darlington are being asked for their help in keeping cases of vomiting and diarrhoea to a minimum in their local hospitals this winter.

Members of the public with sickness or diarrhoea are being asked not to come into hospital to visit relatives until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours and as a precautionary measure, the elderly and young children are being asked not to visit relatives or friends in hospital at this time.

Robin Mitchell, Medical Director for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: "Cases of diarrhoea and vomiting traditionally go up in the colder months, however, this year levels in the north east are already especially high.

"The Trust has 50 patients affected across 5 wards with suspected Norovirus across its two acute sites - Darlington Memorial Hospital and University Hospital of North Durham - as well as wards at some of its community hospitals.

"We have procedures in place to manage patients with such symptoms which includes isolating them, making sure staff aren't moving around and increasing cleaning and reinforcing infection control practice.

"As a precautionary measure we are also asking older members of the community or young children not to come into hospital to visit friends or relatives because they are the most vulnerable at risk of catching the infection."

Members of the public with vomiting or diarrhoea are also being urged not to visit relatives in hospitals until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours to help to limit the spread of the illness.

Most bouts of winter vomiting are caused by norovirus infection which is the most common cause of gastro-enteritis in England and Wales.  It is estimated that norovirus affects between 600,000 and one million people in the United Kingdom every year.

Noroviruses cause a very unpleasant but generally short-lived illness from which people will usually recover without treatment.  The main symptom is vomiting, which can be projectile in nature, and is sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.  Some people may have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs.

Norovirus is highly infectious and it can spread rapidly in semi-closed communities such as hospitals. People feel very unwell when they have a norovirus infection, but it is not usually necessary to seek medical advice unless symptoms persist for more than a few days.

People with symptoms should stay at home and take plenty of fluids until they are free of symptoms for 48 hours. If the illness persists for more than a few days, they should contact their family doctor by phone or take advice from NHS Direct either by calling 0845 4647 or visiting In County Durham or Darlington, you can also call the 111 service.

If people do become ill, they can also reduce the risk of passing on the virus to others by:

  • Washing hands thoroughly and regularly at all times, but particularly after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Staying away from work or school until you have fully recovered and been free of symptoms for 48 hours.
  • Not visiting friends or relatives in hospitals or care homes until you have fully recovered and been free of symptoms for 48 hours.
  • Not handling or preparing food for other people until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

Further information and guidance about norovirus is available on the HPA  website at:

Published: 17 December 2012


'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham