Hospital surgeries cancelled with vomiting virus outbreak

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Surgeries at Craigavon Area Hospital have been cancelled because of a “serious” outbreak of Norovirus.

In-patient elective planned surgeries were cancelled yesterday but day patients are to come in as normal, a spokeswoman for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said.

The winter vomiting and diarrhoea virus is “now seriously impacting on our hospitals” she added.

“We are working hard to arrange new dates as quickly as possible for any of the patients affected. The situation will continue to be reviewed to assess if more cancellations are required in the days ahead.”

The spokeswoman was unable to give any numbers for cancelled appointments and said that going forward, patients would be contacted personally if it was necessary to cancel their appointments.

The trust is dealing with the situation “a day at a time” and emphasised that it is not “a hospital-acquired illness” but rather one that has been brought into the hospital by visitors due to the particular rise in its occurrence in the community at present.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency (PHA) said the virus is also having an impact on nursing and residential homes, but that it is not unusual to see an increase in the illness in winter.

Dr Lorraine Doherty, assistant director of Public Health, urged people to take extra care with hand hygiene when using the toilet and preparing food. The symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, a raised temperature, headache and sore limbs and can last up to three days.

It is very important that people who have symptoms do not visit hospitals, their GP surgery, or nursing and residential homes, she said. The best treatment is to stay at home, rest, take plenty of fluids, and reduce contact with others, she added.