Norovirus restricts access to hospital

Dunedin Hospital is restricting visitors in an effort to contain its suspected norovirus outbreak which was affecting five wards yesterday.

All people arriving at the hospital must go to the patient inquiries desk in the main foyer to find out whether they can visit the wards or make deliveries.

Stop signs at the entrances to the hospital will ask people to stay away if they have had vomiting or diarrhoea.

Family doctors, rest homes and long-stay hospitals are also being asked to care for people with norovirus in the community unless their condition warrants hospital care.

In the past fortnight the bug has hit six wards at the hospital, affecting 39 patients and staff.

Yesterday, two cardiology wards - 7C and 7B - were added to the list of wards affected.

Other wards affected are 8A and 8B. The only two wards closed are 8A and 7A.

No patients are admitted and no visitors are allowed on those wards.

The hospital is urging all staff and other people who are ill or have an ill family to stay away until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

The first in the series of outbreaks occurred last week in Ward 5B.

Operations manager Megan Boivin said last night the situation regarding restrictions would be reviewed today.

People who were allowed to visit wards, after checking first, would be asked to use microbial gels before getting in the lift, and gel stations would be placed outside the wards.

The hospital has had some patients with vomiting and diarrhoea attending the Emergency Department, but often such patients had other conditions as well, she said.

Bed numbers at the hospital were fairly tight, with only 14 available last night.

This week's outbreak meant the board's infection prevention and control charge nurse manager Jo Stodart had to return early from the national conference of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation's infection control division in Hamilton, and she missed her election as the group's chairwoman.

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