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C&C DHB Continues Efforts To Manage Norovirus

21 May 2004

C&C DHB Continues Efforts To Manage Norovirus

Staff at Wellington Hospital and Kenepuru Community Hospital (in Porirua) are continuing their efforts to contain the spread of Norovirus, a “stomach bug” which arose in the local community in recent weeks, and has more recently affected a number of hospital patients and staff.

The Medical Officer of Health for Regional Public Health, Dr Margot McLean says it is clear that Norovirus is currently fairly widespread in the Greater Wellington community.

“It is a mild illness, but it spreads very easily, and places such as hospitals, schools and rest homes with a large flow of patients, staff and visitors are open to the risk of infection and re-infection,” Dr McLean said.

C&C DHB Interim Chief Operating Officer John Peters says “All cases of Norovirus within our hospitals have manifested as a mild but unpleasant stomach bug, causing diarrhoea and vomiting for one to two days. And in most of those cases those symptoms have now passed.”

“We have put stringent infection control measures in place, and are also working to ensure that patients, staff and visitors receive information to help avoid the risk of contracting and spreading the virus,” John Peters says.

Wellington Hospital infectious diseases physician Dr Tim Blackmore says a number of new possible cases of Norovirus have come to light in the past 24 hours. “I’m not surprised by this, we would expect incubating cases to crop up from the community,” Dr Blackmore says.

“Over the past 24 hours we have identified around a dozen people, mostly hospital staff but some hospital patients, who feel unwell and have some symptoms similar to those of Norovirus. They may or may not have Norovirus, as diarrhoea and vomiting are quite common symptoms for a range of illnesses. However in the interests of safety we are treating them as if they have Norovirus, to reduce the risk of transmission,” Dr Blackmore says.

John Peters says day-surgery and urgent surgery are proceeding as usual at the hospitals. However patients scheduled for non-urgent surgery which would require them being admitted to hospital are being considered on a case-by-case basis. This has resulted in the postponement of 7 operations today.

“C&C DHB regrets the inconvenience to these patients, however we believe the decision to delay those procedures is the safest and best approach to take,” John Peters says.

ends

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