Norovirus warning: NHS urges people with these symptoms to stay at home and avoid hospital

People struck down with the sickness bug norovirus are being urged to stay at home and not go to hospital. With winter just around the corner, the NHS has issued a plea for people to take steps to avoid spreading their germs. Noroviris is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. The bug causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

Some people also have a slight fever


Lisa Johnson, nurse consultant director of infection prevention and control at NHS Kernow, is urging people suffering from these symptoms to stay away from hospital wherever possible.

She explained that the infectious nature of the bug poses a risk to others, even if a person is immediately sent home from the hospital.

“If you think your symptoms are due to something you have caught remember that something you can catch is something you can spread,” she said.

In addition to diarrhoea and vomiting, other symptoms include:

  • Feeling sick
  • Projectile vomiting

“Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs,” explained the NHS.

Ms Johnson added: “If the symptoms come on suddenly, nausea, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea then it is very likely to be norovirus. It is normal to feel pretty awful with norovirus, drained, washed out with aching limbs and ribs from being sick, things should improve from the second day.

“The best place you can be is in your home, with your own bowl and your own toilet. Try and rest and stay hydrated as these infectious bugs pass quite quickly in healthy people.

“If your symptoms don’t follow this pattern or don’t resolve you should phone NHS 111 or your GP for an assessment to made. It is important to stay home until the symptoms are assessed.

“Even if you do need some rehydration treatment your Doctor should be able to arrange this for you at home.”

Other ways to stop the virus spreading

In addition to staying at home, the NHS recommends taking the following precautions to prevent the disease from spreading:

  • A person should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food. Don’t rely on alcohol hand gels, as they do not kill the virus.
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated. It’s best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated separately on a hot wash to ensure the virus is killed.
  • Don’t share towels and flannels.
  • Flush away any infected poo or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding area.
  • Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce and only eat oysters from a reliable source, as oysters can carry norovirus.

When to seek medical advice

As the NHS points out, a person doesn’t normally need to see their GP if they think they or their child has norovirus, as there’s no specific treatment for it.

Antibiotics won’t help because it’s caused by a virus.

“Visiting your GP surgery with norovirus can put others at risk, so it’s best to call your GP or the NHS 24 ‘111’ service if you’re concerned or feel you need advice,” advised the health body.

Seek medical advice if:

  • A person or their baby or child has passed six or more watery stools in the past 24 hours, or has vomited three times or more in the past 24 hours
  • A person or their baby or child is less responsive, feverish, or has pale or mottled skin
  • If a person or their child has symptoms of severe dehydration, such as persistent dizziness, only passing small amounts of urine or no urine at all, or reduced consciousness – babies and elderly people have a greater risk of becoming dehydrated
  • If a person has bloody diarrhoea
  • If a person’s symptoms haven’t started to improve after a few days
  • If a person or their child have a serious underlying condition, such as kidney disease, and have diarrhoea and vomiting

“Your GP may suggest sending off a sample of your stool to a laboratory to confirm whether you have norovirus or another infection,” explained the NHS.

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