Norovirus outbreak shuts fifth Margate hospital ward

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A total of 83 people have been affected by the winter vomiting bug at an east Kent hospital.

Five wards at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate have now been closed to new admissions.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said 65 patients and 18 members of staff had norovirus.

The norovirus bug can last for two or three days. People can be infectious for 48 hours before any symptoms appear.

What is the winter vomiting bug?

  • Norovirus is the most common cause of stomach bug in the UK, affecting between 600,000 and a million people each year
  • Around 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected, the virus causes sudden onset of nausea followed by vomiting and diarrhoea
  • The virus lives in the gut and is spread by poor hygiene i.e. not washing hands properly
  • It can survive outside of the body for days and outbreaks tend to affect more than 50% of susceptible people

Source: BBC Health

The trust has told patients and visitors suffering from vomiting, sickness and diarrhoea to avoid coming to the QEQM.

It has also urged anyone with symptoms to stay away from the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and William Harvey Hospital.

Head of nursing Karina Greenan said: "I think people do feel that the need to visit at this time of year, particularly, but I also think it's about looking after the wider community.

"Someone will be in hospital for two or three days and yes they may feel they need to have a visitor but if you're bringing the norovirus to them they won't thank you for it."

In a statement, the trust said: "The Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital is currently caring for people who have norovirus - a seasonal sickness currently in the area that causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

"You can help reduce the risk to our patients by visiting only if absolutely necessary - and please call the ward first for advice."

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