HEALTH bosses have been forced to close three wards at Peterborough City Hospital after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug norovirus.
Forty three patients at the £289 million “super hospital” in Bretton are known to have contracted the illness over the last week.
Three wards have been closed for new admissions and signs have been put up warning visitors not to enter the hospital if they have vomited or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.
A fourth ward has also been affected by the outbreak but health bosses say it has not been closed as it is made up of isolated areas for individual patients.
Work is now underway to cleanse the wards and it is hoped they will be opened again this week.
A spokeswoman for the hospital said: “Once a ward has been cleaned, it can be assessed for reopening 72 hours after the last patient became symptomatic.
“This ensures the prevention of further people contracting the extremely contagious virus.
“It is expected that the wards currently closed will reopen early-mid next week if there are no further cases confirmed.
“It is difficult to say at this stage if all cases are confirmed or just symptomatic as patients are reviewed and tested if necessary.
“Until results are returned the cases are treated as symptomatic.”
Norovirus is extremely contagious and can be brought into the hospital by patients’ friends and family.
It is common in the winter and an outbreak in the hospital last year caused financial problems.
Hospital bosses factored such outbreaks into their ‘winter escalation plan’ so it doesn’t affect their finances as much this year, but are still taking precautions to ensure the outbreak is as small as possible.
11 patients on Ward A8, 14 on Ward A9, 8 on Ward A10 and 10 on Ward B7 have been affected by an outbreak of norovirus - a bug which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Wards A8, A9 and A10 are closed for new admissions, but Ward B7 remains open because those who caught the bug were isolated quickly enough to contain it.
Chris Wilkinson, Director of Nursing says: “Norovirus is extremely contagious and spreads very quickly in confined spaces.”
Visiting is restricted on wards that are closed to new admissions. Relatives have been informed by telephone and can still visit between 6 and 7pm each day.
Children are not advised to come on to these wards. All visiting is at the discretion of the ward manager.
If people are concerned about the virus they should call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or their own GP directly.
Hospital facilities get internal praise
HEALTH chiefs feel the £289 million Peterborough City Hospital, which opened in November 2010, can cope better with the virus than the old hospital.
A hospital spokeswoman She said: “It has made an immense difference to the way we can nurse patients with illnesses like norovirus.
“In most cases, patients can be moved to single rooms and this allows the wards to remain open to new admissions.”