Visitor controls lifted

Dunstan Hospital is open to all visitors again, concerns having eased about the spread of a very infectious virus.

Since last Wednesday, the hospital at Clyde has restricted visitors to immediate family.

Central Otago Health Services Ltd general manager Karyn Penno said the aim was to contain the spread of the virus, after patients and staff were hit with a very infectious influenza-like illness. Almost 20 staff were affected within a week of the outbreak.

The health company, which runs the hospital, hoped the restrictions on visitors would contain and control the virus. 

"The strain hasn't been identified but as both staff and patients involved have similar signs and symptoms, we assume it's the same flu,'' Ms Penno said.

All the staff affected had received this year's flu vaccination, so it appeared to be a strain not covered by the vaccination, she said.

Various strains of flu were usually circulating at this time of year but the elderly, the very young and those with already compromised health were particularly vulnerable.

Hospital staff reminded people to follow basic hygiene practices.

It was an unusual move to place the hospital in "outbreak management'' mode but it appeared to have contained the outbreak, Ms Penno said.

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