Hospital staff are reminding visitors to think carefully about their own health before visiting friends and family in hospital.

When the weather turns colder, there is an increase in the number of people who suffer with illnesses such as Norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

These bugs are easily spread from person to person, but especially to those people who are already vulnerable, such as hospital patients.

If a hospital ward has to be ‘closed’ due to a Norovirus outbreak it means that the ward is closed to visitors and no further patients can be admitted until the outbreak is over – this can take weeks if the outbreak affects a large number of patients.

That’s why we are asking people not to visit hospital unless they are sure they do not have Norovirus or any other stomach bug or the flu.

Vicky Pang, clinical lead nurse for infection, prevention and control, explained: “The rule is to leave 48 hours from the last symptom and then you will be non-infectious. Patients in hospital tend to have lower immunity against infections, as their body fights to become well again.

“Friends and family can help us by postponing their visit until they are 48 hours symptom-free; to make sure they don’t pass on any illnesses. We can also all do our bit to stay well this winter by washing our hands thoroughly and regularly.”

How to stop the spread of noro

No-one wants Norovirus so follow these simple steps to stop the spread:

N No visits to hospital, care home or GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus – send someone else to visit your loved ones until you are better

O Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work or school – or to visit relatives in hospitals and care homes

R Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating and preparing food. It’s the best way to avoid picking up this nasty winter bug

O Only hand-washing will prevent the spread of Norovirus – alcohol gels don’t kill the virus