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10 norovirus outbreaks in a month across Cornwall

10 norovirus outbreaks in a month across Cornwall

Published by Emma Carton at 7:47am 25th November 2019. (Updated at 11:05am 25th November 2019)

Norovirus outbreaks hit nurseries, schools, care homes and hospitals across Cornwall.

According to figures from Public Health England, there have been 10 in the last month.

One closed a ward at Treliske and another saw dozens of children fall sick at a holiday park.

The illness, known as the winter vomiting bug, can live on hard surfaces for hours and spreads quickly.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

Most people will recover within a few days and can return to work or school.

However, if Norovirus is introduced unintentionally into places where lots of people congregate, such as schools, nurseries, hospitals and care homes, the illness can spread incredibly quickly and affect vulnerable people.

How can I stop the spread of norovirus?

N     No visits to hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus; send someone else to visit 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, school or visit hospitals and care home
R     Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food 
O     Only hand-washing will prevent spread of Norovirus - alcohol hand gels DON'T kill the virus 

The best way to protect yourself and others from catching this unpleasant sickness bug is simply to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, and to keep the environment you live and work in clean.

Alcohol or antibacterial hand sanitisers are a popular choice for people wanting to protect themselves from the bugs that circulate during winter, causing illnesses such as norovirus. 

However, what most people don't know is that hand sanitisers are NOT an effective protection against this common sickness bug.

What is the advice from health bosses?

Hospitals across the south-west remain very busy due to winter pressures but there a range of simple steps which people can take to stay well and avoid having to go to A&E. 

These include:

  • As soon as you feel unwell with a cough or cold get advice from a pharmacist, before it gets too serious
  • Alternatively if you are ill, call the non-emergency NHS 111 helpline which can advise you on the best service for your needs
  • Keep as warm as you can and if possible maintain rooms at 18°c.

"Levels of norovirus are increasing in line with expected levels so far this winter but many schools, nurseries, hospitals and care homes across the south-west have reported outbreaks in recent weeks.

"We work closely with these institutions throughout the year to ensure that they have the right information and guidance to help prevent the spread of infection. 

"But it's important for everyone to remember that we all have a role to play in reducing the spread of winter bugs. 

"Norovirus is unusual in that hand sanitisers don't kill the virus and so hand washing is the best way to stop this nasty infection before it passes on to others.

"The symptoms of norovirus include suddenly feeling sick, projectile vomiting, and watery diarrhoea. 

"Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs. 

"The symptoms appear one to two days after you become infected and typically last for up to 2 or 3 days.

"Anyone who has been infected should stay off work or school for 48 hours after their symptoms have ceased".

Dominic Mellon, Public Health England South West

You can read more advice on stopping the spread of norovirus here.

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