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Sewage tests show sickness bug is on the rise

12 Dec 2023 2 minute read
Norovirus. Image: NHS

Richard Evans Local Democracy Reporter

A sickness bug which led to the closure of hospital wards is also affecting schools and care homes according to Public Health Wales.

Public Health Wales [PHW] said they had seen a rise in cases of norovirus in schools and care homes in recent weeks following the ward closures at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Rising number of cases

They also said sewage tests had shown a rise in levels of the bug across the population.

Last week, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board had to restrict visiting on most of their wards due to a rise in cases of norovirus.

Cases have also caused problems at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

PHW has now confirmed an increase in incidents reported in other settings.

A spokesman said: “Public Health Wales has seen an increase in incidents of norovirus in schools and care homes in recent weeks.

“Wastewater monitoring has also picked up a signal upswing indicating an increased presence of norovirus at population level.

“Norovirus is a common stomach bug causing vomiting and diarrhoea, but symptoms may also include mild fever, headaches, stomach cramps and aching limbs. The illness usually resolves itself after a couple of days.”

He added: “Anyone with diarrhoea and/or vomiting is advised to stay away from work, school, or nursery while they are symptomatic, and for 48 hours after their symptoms stop.

“Stay hydrated, and advice should be sought from a GP or NHS Direct Wales if someone is concerned about their symptoms.”

Difficult decision

Last week Angela Wood, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s executive director of nursing and midwifery, said: “Due to an increased number of norovirus cases, we have made the difficult decision to close the majority of our wards at Wrexham Maelor Hospital to visitors with immediate effect.”

She said visitors would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances and asked anyone who felt ill with sickness and diarrhoea in the last 48 hours to rearrange their appointment.

Although Wrexham’s emergency department remains open, people are being asked not to visit those attending for treatment, to reduce the risk of infection spreading.

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