FIVE wards have been closed at a general hospital following a particularly infectious outbreak of the winter vomiting bug norovirus.

Elderly, orthopaedic, surgical and general medical wards have been closed at York Hospital, which serves 530,000 people living in the city and Hambleton, Harrogate and Ryedale districts.

Hospital managers have issued a plea to people who have vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms of the virus, which has no specific cure, to stay away from the hospital until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

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They say the strain of norovirus had been brought into the hospital and had proved to be “particularly virulent”.

The hospital’s chief nurse, Libby McManus, said: “We have had instances recently where visitors have vomited whilst on our wards, placing patients and staff at risk and causing us to close further ward areas at a time when the hospital is particularly busy.

“Closing wards helps us to contain the virus, but visitors can play a large part by staying away if possible.

"We would urge visitors to think carefully before paying any non-essential visits at this time.

"Patients’ friends and relatives are being urged to contact the hospital before visiting to find out if a particular ward is affected, and up-to-date information about closures is also available on display screens in the main and south entrance."