Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and vomiting. Most people will recover within a few days and can return to work or school. However if norovirus is introduced unintentionally into care homes, doctors surgeries and hospitals by  patients and visitors it can cause chaos, making it difficult for healthcare workers to treat vulnerable patients at the busiest time of the year.

The symptoms of norovirus include suddenly feeling sick, projectile vomiting, and watery diarrhoea. Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs. The symptoms appear one to two days after you become infected and typically last for up to 2 or 3 days.

  • 140 outbreaks of norovirus reported in the community across the South West so far this winter
  • If norovirus is introduced unintentionally into care homes and hospitals by visitors it can lead to ward closures
  • Make sure you practice good hand hygiene and manage illness at home to stop the spread of this unpleasant infectious bug

No-one wants a vomiting bug as a Christmas present, but each winter many people unintentionally bring norovirus into hospitals and care homes when visiting loved ones.

With only six days to go until Christmas Day, Public Health England is urging people across the South West to protect themselves and their loved ones against the winter vomiting bug norovirus by taking simple steps to stop the spread of the virus, particularly to vulnerable people.

When a hospital ward is classed as ‘closed’ due to a norovirus outbreak it means that the ward is closed to visitors and no further patients can be admitted until the outbreak is over – this can take weeks if the outbreak has affected a large number of patients. The same applies to care homes and, as the number of people visiting patients or residents rises during the Christmas period, the risk of well-meaning relatives passing on this nasty bug to their loved ones increases. 

Please don’t visit the surgery if you have symptoms of norovirus – stay at home for at least 48 hours!

What you can do

No-one wants norovirus for Christmas so follow these simple steps to stop the spread:

  • N – No visits to hospitals, care homes or GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of norovirus – send someone else to visit loved ones until you are better, and ask for a GP telephone call rather than visiting the surgery
  • O – Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work or school – or to visit relatives in hospitals and care homes
  • R – Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food. It’s the best way to avoid picking up this nasty winter bug
  • O – Only hand-washing will prevent spread of norovirus – alcohol hand gels DON’T kill the virus