Highlands & Islands

All visits to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness suspended

Raigmore Hospital in Inverness
Image caption Three wards at Raigmore had earlier been closed to new admissions

All visits to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness have been temporarily suspended in an effort to bring a norovirus outbreak under control.

Wards 2C, 5C and 7C at the biggest hospital in the Highlands had earlier been closed to new admissions after about 30 patients fell ill.

NHS Highland said the suspension of all visits would help staff tackle the outbreak of sickness.

The health board said the virus was "rife" in the local community.

Dr Adam Brown, consultant microbiologist at NHS Highland, said: "We currently have a high number of patients in hospital with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting and we also know it is rife in the community.

"By reducing the amount of traffic coming in to the hospital we hope that will reduce the risk of any more outbreaks of norovirus."

"We would ask members of the public not to come in to hospital to visit any ward unless by prior arrangement with the nurse in charge."

He added: "Hospital staff will of course be very happy to talk to visitors on the phone so they can get updates on how their relatives are."

Though the virus is known as the winter vomiting bug, NHS Highland said norovirus occurs all year round and there is no vaccine.

The virus is highly contagious and continually changes. People do not develop lasting immunity so can catch it more than once in a year, the health board said.

A sudden sick feeling followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea are usually the first signs of the bug.

The symptoms commonly last a couple of days, but can last longer in older people.

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