AN on-going outbreak of norovirus at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary is continuing to restrict visiting to the affected wards. Five wards at the hospital have been affected by the highly contagious winter bug which affects up to a million people in the UK each year.

A spokesperson for theUniversity Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said that the situation at the hospital is improving, but it is not doing so as quickly as expected.

Restrictions continue to apply to all people visiting to wards 20, 21, 37, 39, and the Acute Medical Unit.

For those members of the public that do visit the hospital, they are asked to ensure they wash their hands with soap and water before entering the hospital. Alcohol gel is not effective against norovirus.

And unless it is an emergency, members of the public are asked not to visit the hospital if they have been sick or had diarrhoea in the last 72 hours or been in close contact with someone who has.

Juliet Walters, Chief Operating Officer, said: “Whilst we understand that this will cause patients and members of the public some frustration, this measure will allow us to help prevent the spread of the infection and ensure safe patient care.

“Our staff are working extremely hard to deal with this outbreak quickly and this decision will help us return services to normal as soon as possible.

“This decision may seem drastic but these precautions are to protect our patients and staff and we would appreciate the co-operation of the public.”

The norovirus illness does not last long and sufferers usually take between 12 and 60 hours to recover.

Anyone with concerns should call NHS Direct on 0845-4647.