Due to the increase in winter vomiting bug, Tullamore Hospital imposes visiting limitations | Offaly Independent

Tullamore Hospital has implemented visiting restrictions as a precautionary measure following the recent rise of the winter vomiting bug. Norovirus is a highly contagious illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea, and hospitals are particularly susceptible to outbreaks during the winter months. In this article from the Offaly Independent, we will delve into the specifics of the situation, including what the visiting restrictions entail and why they are necessary. We will also discuss how people can prevent the spread of the virus and what to do if they are experiencing symptoms. Whether you are a hospital employee or a concerned family member, this article will provide you with the vital information you need to stay safe and healthy during this challenging time.

As winter approaches, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in Ireland is urging the public to be aware of the symptoms of a winter vomiting bug, also known as norovirus. The virus is easily spread and causes sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhoea. HPSC has reported that cases of the virus are increasing in Ireland with 394 cases being recorded in the first ten weeks of 2023, almost four times the number of cases recorded in the same period in 2022. Approximately 50% of cases are aged over 65 years, and 28% of cases are aged under 5 years, making the elderly and young children the most susceptible.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the HPSC recommends taking good hygiene measures, such as frequent handwashing, including before eating or preparing food and after using the bathroom, and using soap and water. Alcohol hand gels are not effective against the virus. Additionally, the public should utilise bleach-based household cleaners to thoroughly disinfect contaminated surfaces, immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness, and discard any vomit and/or faeces in the toilet, making sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.

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Dr Paul McKeown, the HPSC consultant in public health medicine, emphasises that anyone who is ill with norovirus should stay at home, avoid going to work or school, and not visit nursing homes or hospitals until 48 hours after their symptoms have gone. This is the best way to protect other vulnerable people who may be infected. If anyone develops forceful vomiting or any other symptoms, they should not visit their GP’s surgery without phoning ahead first.

While norovirus infection is usually mild and lasts only a day or two, young children and elderly people can become very sick. Furthermore, people who get sick with norovirus can still spread the infection even after their symptoms have gone, and there is no treatment for norovirus. While it is impossible to prevent norovirus, it is crucial to take good hygiene measures around someone who is infected to reduce the chance of getting infected.

Finally, the public is being urged to visit the HPSC website to find out more about the norovirus. New guidance on managing norovirus in residential care settings has been published, and up-to-date guidelines on visiting patients are available on the Health Service Executive website. In conclusion, it is essential to stay vigilant against norovirus, particularly during the winter months, and take appropriate precautions to keep ourselves and others safe from infection.

As we’ve witnessed a surge in norovirus cases, Tullamore Hospital has swiftly implemented visiting restrictions to prevent the spread of infection. It is important to acknowledge the hospital’s efforts and precautionary measures, which highlight their commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of both patients and visitors. However, the reality is that we all have a role to play in combatting this virus. Maintaining personal hygiene and adhering to the visiting restrictions is crucial in limiting the spread of the winter vomiting bug. By working together, we can help to protect the health of the wider community, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the virus. Stay safe and keep your loved ones healthy this winter season.

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