By Brett Campbell
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust's medical director has warned people who have experienced bouts of Diarrhea and/or vomiting to avoid coming into contact with people in frail health for at least 72 hours.
Dr Maria O’Kane has also urged people to visit hospitals only if necessary and to respect hospital visiting rules to prevent the spread of infections.
The call comes following a rise in cases of flu and norovirus in the community which has already impacted on some wards in Craigavon and Daisy Hill Hospitals.
Dr O’Kane says the latest figures indicate that flu activity is a fifth higher than it was this time last year.
"Although flu is a nasty virus, for most people it will get better without the need to attend hospital or contact the GP, however like norovirus, it is highly infectious," she added.
"If you are entitled to a free flu jab, I would strongly recommend that you get one. Trust staff also need to get their jab to protect our patients, the public and themselves.
“We are urging people with symptoms to stay away from hospital to help ease the pressure on our busy teams and stop the viruses spreading, as the risk of passing these infections on to the person you are visiting in hospital as well as other sick people and hospital staff – is extremely high.
“We understand that friends and family want to see loved ones in hospital however visitors must respect our rules – i.e. don’t visit if you or someone in your house has symptoms of cold, flu, vomiting or diarrhoea, no more than two visitors to each patient at any time and wash your hands before entering and leaving wards.”
“We are also asking people not to bring in foods such as takeaways, sandwiches and products with cream and to make sure to keep the patient’s area clutter free.
“We have installed new signage across all of our hospital sites reminding everyone that clean hands save lives. We all have a role to play in the continued drive against infection and in ensuring that patients receive the safest possible care.”
More information on rules of visiting are available on the trust's website.