People living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being asked to help stop the spread of norovirus this winter by following some simple steps. 

Often referred to as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is a very unpleasant and highly contagious stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

Although most people will recover within a few days, if it is introduced unintentionally into schools, nurseries, hospitals or care homes, it can spread incredibly quickly and affect vulnerable people.

Norovirus is already causing problems in hospitals across the area and has led to ward closures which, in turn, has had an impact on waiting times.

To help reduce norovirus-related problems this winter, health and care leaders are asking people to play their part in stopping the spread of the condition by just thinking NORO:

  • No visits to hospitals, care home and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of norovirus
  • Once you have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you are safe to return to work or school, and visit hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food
  • Only hand washing will prevent the spread of norovirus - alcohol hand gel does not

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, a GP in Market Lavington and Clinical Chair of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There have already been a number of clinical settings across BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire affected by norovirus and we’re keen to keep these to a minimum, especially as our health and care services begin to experience increased demand. 

"Self-treating at home is the best way to help yourself and avoid putting others at risk.

"You don’t normally need to see your GP as drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol will help relieve the pain.

"If you’re concerned, the NHS 111 phone or online service is a helpful alternative to going to your GP in person for advice.”

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs, said: "At this time of the year we all need to be extra vigilant about the dangers of catching and spreading norovirus.

"Nobody wants to suffer the effects of this unpleasant disease and we need to do all we can to minimise the disruption it can have on our hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes, schools and nurseries.

"Taking a few very simple steps can really help to address this problem.

"I’d urge everyone in our local area to makes sure they are washing their hands regularly with soap and water, keeping away from hospitals and GP surgeries if they have the condition and waiting at least 48 hours after symptoms have gone before returning to work or school.”