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Bacteria discovery closes Launceston hospital

image captionThe bacteria can contaminate and grow in other water systems

A hospital in north Cornwall is to close for four weeks after tests showed that legionella bacteria was present in two locations.

Officials at Launceston Hospital, which has 20 beds, say that levels pose a minimal risk to patients and staff.

The closure is being implemented to allow a disinfection of the water system and a major refurbishment of the heating and water system.

The bacteria was discovered during routine water testing.

Kevin Baber, chief executive of Peninsula Community Health, said: "We routinely sample the quality of our water.

"It was as part of that routine surveillance at the end of last week we discovered the issue."

Mr Baber said there were 10 patients in the hospital earlier. Six patients have been moved to Liskeard hospital, while two have gone home and two others have "gone to onward care settings."

The hospital has a minor injuries unit as well as physiotherapy and x-ray facilities.

Mr Baber said: "The minor injuries unit won't be able to run, so patients will have to attend Liskeard, Bodmin or Stratton.

"The outpatient clinics will be relocated. We will contact patients about this."

Legionella bacteria can contaminate and grow in other water systems such as cooling towers and evaporative condensers.

It can survive low temperatures, but is killed by high temperatures.

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