Dunedin Hospital to lift lockdown

Elective services at Dunedin Hospital are planned to resume next week as the number of new norovirus cases continues to decline.

Otago District Health Board operations manager Megan Boivin said it was hoped all wards would be reopened today once they had been cleaned.

The number of patients in isolation has dropped from 30 to 18, with only 15 of those suffering from norovirus.

Six more patients and staff have fallen ill with the highly contagious virus since yesterday, compared with 11 yesterday, 24 on Wednesday and 16 on Tuesday.

In total 73 patients and almost 100 staff have fallen prey to the virus.

Visitor restrictions would still be in place during the weekend and the main entrance would continue to be manned by security staff, she said. Hand hygiene protocols will be enforced for those who are allowed access to the hospital.

Next week 2pm to 8pm visiting hours would be strictly enforced and visitors would not be allowed outside of these hours, Mrs Boivin said.

The only exemptions to the stricter hours would be the neonatal intensive care unit, the intensive care unit and the paediatric ward.

Those attending outpatient clinics next week will be asked to go straight to their appointment and refrain from spending more time than they need to in other areas of the hospital. Visiting restrictions were lifted at Waikari Hospital yesterday.

More than 2,300 procedures, including elective surgery, outpatient visits and planned admissions, have been postponed.

Those patients would not go to the bottom of the waiting list as the hospital had made a commitment to give them treatment, Mrs Boivin said.

Chief medical officer Richard Bunton said there would be increased waiting times for some services as a result of the norovirus outbreak and hospital lock-down.

Good hand hygiene is the most important way people can protect themselves from the spread of illness. Hands should be washed for 20sec with soap and water and then dried thoroughly for 20sec with clean towels.

Anybody with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from work or school, or not visit hospitals or rest-homes, until they have been free of all symptoms for 48 hours.

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