Northern Ireland

Nororvirus: Craigavon Area Hospital cancels surgeries

Craigavon surgery
Image caption The Southern Health Trust has cancelled all non-emergency inpatient surgeries in its hospitals due to the nororvirus.

The Southern Health Trust has cancelled all non-emergency inpatient surgeries at Craigavon Area Hospital due to the nororvirus.

The bug, sometimes known as winter vomiting virus, is present all year but becomes more common over winter months.

Day surgeries - where the patient can be discharged on the same day - are still going ahead.

The trust said a number of wards in its hospitals have had to be closed to new admissions.

"Norovirus in the community and is now seriously impacting on our hospitals," said a trust spokesman.

"We are working hard to arrange new dates as quickly as possible for any of the patients affected.

"The situation will continue to be reviewed to assess if more cancellations are required in the days ahead."

He added that the trust has issued public appeals "asking people to stay away from our hospitals unless absolutely necessary due to the risk of spreading this infection to our patients and staff".

Norovirus facts

  • Norovirus occurs all year round and is unrelated to hospital cleanliness
  • No vaccine to protect against norovirus
  • You cannot develop lasting immunity to the bug and can catch it more than once
  • Noroviruses can survive for days on any surface

Image caption Craiagavon Area Hospital has cancelled inpatient surgeries

Armagh man Fred MacDonald was due to have had thyroid surgery on Wednesday, but was contacted on Tuesday to be told it had been cancelled.

He said he was told he might get the surgery, scheduled a number of months ago, before Christmas, but there were no guarantees.

"It is uncomfortable and I'm suffering a bit, if you can call it that, but I was looking forward to it, to get the thing sorted," he said.

"My biggest issue with it, apart from the cancellation, is [the hospital] always calling on number withheld numbers.

"If I hadn't, by chance, answered the phone I wouldn't have known it had been cancelled and I would have been in hospital this morning at 10 o'clock."

He added: "It's just wait and see, it feels like you're getting pushed to the back of the list."

PHA warning

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has said the norovirus is circulating in the community and "having an impact on nursing and residential homes, as well as some hospital services".

Dr Lorraine Doherty, assistant director of public health at the PHA, said: "It's not unusual to see an increase in the winter vomiting and diarrhoea virus at this time of year, so we are urging people to take extra care with hand hygiene and, if you have the illness, take simple steps to prevent the spread.

"The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, which can begin suddenly. This can also be accompanied by a raised temperature, headache and sore limbs.

"It is very important that people who have symptoms do not visit hospitals, their GP surgery, or nursing and residential homes.

"The illness can last as little as 12 hours or up to three days and the best treatment is to stay at home, rest, take plenty of fluids, and reduce contact with others, both in the home and at work."

More on this story