Bestie (T. Matthias Remix) Yungen
Patients at Southampton's university hospitals are being urged to inform staff on arrival if they have had symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting - or have been in contact with anyone who has - in the last three days.
Staff at Southampton General Hospital have seen a 'rapid increase' in patients admitted over the last two days with medical problems who are also suffering from norovirus and other winter sickness bugs.
While only two wards remain closed to new admissions, eight others have four-bedded bays holding affected patients and doctors are concerned infections will spread further if they are not able to separate those with or likely to have a virus and those who do not.
"We have seen a rapid increase in patients being admitted through the hospital over the last two days who have sickness and diarrhoea and those numbers are not relenting but, more worryingly, a large proportion of new arrivals are not telling us if they've been ill or have been in contact with people suffering from viral bugs," said Dr Graeme Jones, director of the infection prevention unit at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
"If we are aware, these people will be sent on a different path to avoid them passing on infection to patients currently not affected, a lack of information means we could end up in a vicious cycle of opening wards then closing them again quickly, losing valuable capacity for patients in need of hospital care."
Dr Jones is also calling on members of the public to continue to stay away unless their visit is absolutely essential, "With cases of gastroenteritis increasing by more than 33% across the city in the last week, it is even more important people avoid coming in to give us the best chance of limiting unnecessary spread of infection."
Anyone planning to visit Southampton General, the Princess Anne Hospital or hospice Countess Mountbatten House is advised to check with relevant wards and departments before attending as any visits are at the discretion of staff in each individual area.