Visitor ban imposed at two hospitals
Visitors have been asked not to attend Sligo Regional Hospital because of an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug (norovirus) there.
This follows a similar appeal at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick .
A Health Service Executive spokeswoman said the situation at the Sligo hospital reflected the increased incidence of vomiting and diarrhoea in the wider community. To help curtail the spread of the virus, the hospital appealed to the public to visit “only in essential or exceptional circumstances” and said only immediate relatives should visit, and only during the designated visiting times. Children are not permitted to visit.
The visiting restrictions are to remain in place “until the situation has been resolved” .
A blanket ban on visitors was earlier introduced in Limerick, at one of the State’s busiest hospitals, in an effort to contain the spread of the winter vomiting bug. Six cases of norovirus were confirmed at the Mid Western Regional Hospital yesterday, where a full visiting ban is in effect until further notice.
In a statement, the health authority urged members of the public not to visit hospitals or nursing homes if they had been affected by vomiting and/or diarrhoea in the previous 72 hours.
Visitors should respect restrictions in place, particularly as a result of norovirus. They were also advised to use the hand-sanitising gel supplied as they enter and leave a hospital.
“This time of the year is traditionally a busy time for our hospitals. The HSE is today reminding the public that many of us will be exposed to numerous infections, colds and flu that can be easily spread in workplaces and classrooms as they re-open after the festive season,” the executive said.
It said emergency departments in particular were still “extremely busy” following the recent holiday period.
Incidence of the winter vomiting bug showed a marked decrease in the last week of 2012, latest official figures show. However, many cases in the community are not reported to the authorities.
A spokesman for the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which records incidence of infectious diseases, said the number of reported cases was down from 130 in the second week of December to 67 the following week. Reports declined to 29 in the last week of the month.
Separately, the centre reported an influenza rate of 35.7 cases per 100,000 of the population in the last week of December, which was not a significant increase on the two previous weeks or on last year. The centre said in the 2011- 2012 season, incidence of flu had peaked at between 50 and 60 cases per 100,000 of population.