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STAY AWAY: Cleaning frenzy at hospital to contain virus

HEALTH authorities are asking Ipswich residents not to go to the hospital emergency department unless absolutely necessary.   

Staff are still dealing with an outbreak of a highly contagious norovirus including a major cleaning operation to stop the virus spreading.  

No new cases have been confirmed since Wednesday but two more patients are showing symptoms. Norovirus is an infection that lasts up to 72 hours and causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

So far, two cases have been confirmed with 11 patients showing symptoms.

But West Moreton Hospital and Health Service says testing to determine if an individual is positive for the virus can take up to 72-hours to be processed at an off-site forensic lab.

Precautionary measures are still in place at Ipswich Hospital to manage the outbreak.

Patient admission has been halted to two wards within the hospital and all visitors, including staff and other patients, have been reminded to practice appropriate hygiene, as per standard practice.

As part of the effort to stop the virus spreading through the hospital, a rigorous cleaning and disinfecting regime has been underway in the affected wards.

A general increase in cleaning common, high use areas has also been implemented, a West Moreton spokesperson said.

The response has diverted resources and the hospital has asked resident not to visit the emergency department unless necessary to ensure there are no delays in patient flow as a result.

The advice given by Ipswich Hospital executive director Luke Worth earlier this week still stands.

"We are working with our healthcare partners, Mater Springfield and Saint Andrews, as well as our rural hospitals to plan transfers of appropriate patients should that need arise - which it has not at present," Mr Worth said, earlier this week.  

"We'd also encourage people not to come to the Emergency Department unless their complaint is of serious nature requiring urgent medical attention, but instead to use their general practitioner or the 13 HEALTH phone service."  

Norovirus can be transmitted by touching surfaces or through direct or indirect contact with another person who is infected.  

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramping.

The illness generally lasts for up to two days.   People can decrease their chance of coming into contact with norovirus by frequently washing their hands and disinfecting surfaces, particularly in shared spaces.  

If you are concerned that you may have contracted norovirus, more information is available from general practitioners and community health centres or by contacting 13HEALTH.

Topics:  editors picks health ipswich hospital norovirus

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