Rising number of norovirus cases adds pressure to already-busy local NHS

long covid

A growing number of people across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are becoming unwell with norovirus.

Transmission of norovirus, which commonly causes an unpleasant bout of sickness and diarrhoea, is currently very high, with the latest data suggesting that the number of people infected with the bug during the first week of January was more than double that for the last week of December.

This growing number is putting added pressure on already very busy local NHS services, especially the region’s acute hospitals, where norovirus outbreaks have led to staff absences and partial ward closures.

People are now being asked to take simple and effective measures to curb the spread of norovirus, such as washing hands regularly.

Avoiding others when feeling unwell and not visiting friends and loved ones in hospital until at least 48 hours after all symptoms of norovirus have passed can also make a real difference at this busy time.

Gill May, Chief Nurse, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “Although norovirus usually clears up on its own in just a few days, the subsequent disruption an outbreak has on local health and care services can be every bit as unpleasant as its symptoms.

“At this very busy time, when all of our services are experiencing an intense level of sustained demand, norovirus has the potential to make a challenging situation even more difficult.

“This is why we need people across the region to support us in trying to limit the spread of this nasty winter bug.

“Any people who develop symptoms of norovirus should stay at home until at least 48 hours after beginning to feel better, and this means not going to school or work, and especially staying away from health and care settings, such as GP practices and hospitals.

“Washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways of killing norovirus bacteria and preventing further transmission, as is regularly wiping down surfaces, such as where food is prepared and flush handles on shared toilets.”

While the symptoms of norovirus can usually be managed effectively at home, some people, including young children and those who are older, may be at a higher risk of becoming severely unwell, especially through dehydration.

People with norovirus and in need of medical help should avoid visiting services in-person, and instead make use of NHS111 online or call their local pharmacy or GP practice.

Further information on how to stay well during the winter months, as well as details of local health and care services, is available online at www.bsw.icb.nhs.uk.