A HOSPITAL dealing with an outbreak of norovirus has appealed to visitors to stay away if they have been feeling unwell, to help prevent the spread of the winter vomiting bug.

South Tyneside District Hospital has said if people have been unwell with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting they should wait until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours before considering visiting relatives and friends. Once symptom-free, they should also check with the ward before arriving.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s Medical Director Dr Shaz Wahid said: “We are currently dealing with an outbreak of norovirus, which is a very infectious vomiting and diarrhoea bug.

"While norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK and is, generally, mild, our first priority must be to protect vulnerable patients and, consequently, we are asking people to respect our current visiting guidance.

“Our infection prevention and control team are working extremely hard to prevent transmission of the illness, including constantly monitoring all ward areas to ensure that appropriate measures are in place so that affected areas can be re-opened as quickly as possible."

He added: "The public have a very important role to play in helping us to protect patients and we really appreciate their support."

The outbreak comes at a time when the NHS in South Tyneside, as in the whole of the region, is under severe pressure and people across the region are being urged to stay away from A&E unless they are seriously unwell or in need of critical or life-saving care.

This follows soaring A&E attendances in the aftermath of the recent extreme weather.

Norovirus causes a very unpleasant but, generally, short-lived illness from which people will usually recover without treatment.

The main symptom is vomiting, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea, and some people may have a raised temperature and experience headaches and aching limbs. There is no specific treatment and the illness just has to run its course. Most people make a full recovery within one to two days.