Spread of norovirus in hospital hits surgery capacity

A third Dunedin Hospital ward has been affected by an ongoing norovirus outbreak and some surgeries and procedures have been cancelled or delayed.

The gastroenteritis-causing virus was first detected in the hospital 10 days ago and led the Southern District Health Board to close two wards and conduct tests on patients in a third.

Chief operating officer Hamish Brown said the tests confirmed the virus was in three wards, but staff were considering reopening one of the affected wards.

"Two of the wards, both on the seventh floor of the hospital, have now had confirmed cases of norovirus," Mr Brown said.

"This means that visitors to these wards will be permitted at the discretion of the charge nurse manager."

Norovirus, which can remain viable in the environment for up to 12 days, causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea.

"Our staff are using vigorous infection and prevention controls including PPE, as well as increased cleaning measures," Mr Brown said.

Patients and visitors to Dunedin Hospital were being asked to take special precautions until further notice, including not visiting if unwell.

"Any patients with gastroenteritis symptoms presenting to the emergency department should declare this to staff immediately upon arrival.

"This will mean that they can be appropriately supported and cared for in a way to avoid the spread of gastroenteritis to other patients and visitors."

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