People living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being urged to help stop the spread of Norovirus this new year to help relieve pressure on the area’s hospitals and health services.

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

It has closed numerous beds over the past few days in hospitals across the region and local health leaders are appealing to the public to play their part in stopping the spread of the condition by following some simple steps.

  • Please don’t visits to hospitals, care homes, nursing homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus (diarrhoea and vomiting)  - send someone else to visit loved ones until you are better
  • Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work, school or visit hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes and nursing 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 spread of norovirus - alcohol hand gels DON’T kill the virus
  • 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 usually drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol to relieve pain will help.
  • If you’re concerned, the NHS 111 phone or online service is a helpful alternative to going to your GP in person for advice.

Health leaders are also urging the public to only visit hospitals over the new year period if it is absolutely necessary.

They are asking local people to use the NHS 111 service if they have an urgent medical problem and are not sure what to do.

The service is free to call and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is staffed by fully-trained adviser on the phone, who will advise which local service can offer help and get a face-to-face appointment needed.

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs said: “If you do have norovirus, then please don’t visit our hospitals.

"They are already under serious pressure. Instead, stay at home, drink plenty of water, wash your hands regularly with soap and water and wait at least 48 hours after symptoms have gone before returning to work.”