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SWAH warning: stay away if you have the ’flu virus

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Helping keep SWAH infection-free: Wendy Cross, Head of Infection Prevention and Control; Dr Christopher Armstrong, Consultant Microbiologist and Infection Control Doctor; Karen Martin, Infection Prevention and Control Nurse; Professor Jim Kelly, Consultant Geriatrician and Shireen McGlone, Infection Prevention and Control Nurse

IT’S Christmas, the season when our loved ones return from across the country and beyond in their droves, bringing all sorts of viruses home with them.
With the cold weather and so many people mingling in close quarters indoors, the festive season is virus season, with bugs such as the dreaded norovirus spreading rapidly at this time of year.
So far this year there have been no reports of a widespread outbreak of the virus this year, more commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, but that could quickly change and people are being urged to play their part preventing a repeat of last year. This includes staying away from SWAH if you have a virus.
“Despite the best efforts of the Trust to prevent and reduce the spread of infection, in December last year the Western Trust encountered one of the worst outbreaks of norovirus in many years,” said Trust medical director, Dr Dermot Hughes.
“During this time there was also a general increase in the number of the general public in the community who were affected by symptoms of norovirus.
“The disruption caused by the norovirus outbreaks affected both patients and staff and had a severe impact on the day-to-day running of the hospital.
“In order to try to minimise the potential for outbreaks this year we are asking for the commitment from each individual patient, visitor and member of staff by following our simple steps, to ensure that infection prevention and control is a fundamental priority.”
Anyone who has any symptoms of a virus, whether flu or the norovirus or any other virus, are asked to wait until at least 48 hours or two days from symptoms have ended before they visit SWAH.
Those who do visit the hospital are reminded hand hygiene is the most important method of stopping the spread of infections and it is extremely important all visitors wash them with soap and water before and after visiting.
Hospital chiefs have also urged anyone visiting patients not to sit on their bed or touch any equipment, and to visit only one ward or patient while at the hospital and not to move from ward to ward which could increase the risk of the spread of infection.

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