By Garrett Hargan

It has been confirmed at a Western Trust meeting held today that the second of three wards closed to the public at Altnagelvin hospital following an outbreak of Norovirus will be reopened imminently.

A number of wards were closed, Ward 3 (Respiratory), 41 (Acute Medical Unit) and 42 (Acute Elderly Medicine) when the ‘winter vomiting bug’ struck Altnagelvin hospital earlier this week.

At a Western Health and Social Care Trust Board meeting held today, June 14, Medical Director Dr Dermot Hughes addressed the Infection Prevention and Control report for the month.

He said: “Currently we’re struggling with Norovirus, it has waned in recent years but this is back to classic Norovirus.

"It is highly infectious and unlike other viruses you can inhale it so it is exceedingly infectious.

“That’s why we have strict rules about closing the wards, about asking members of staff and the public not to come unnecessarily and only visit one person a day.”

At the meeting it was confirmed that Ward 41 had been reopened, while Ward 42 was described as ‘close’ to reopening and Ward 3 ‘was a bit further back’.

It is a problem ‘across the community, in other hospitals and in nursing home facilities’ and although it’s referred to as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, Dr. Hughes said it doesn’t always live up to its name and can be an issue throughout the year.

The meeting also heard that there have been ‘good outcomes’ in terms of MRSA with ‘no cases’ reported in around two and a half years.

People were advised to avoid visiting the hospital if they are feeling unwell.

The temporary ward closures have impacted on the capacity within the Emergency Department at the hospital.

A Western Trust spokesperson said: “Please be aware that if you are attending Altnagelvin's Emergency Department you may experience a longer wait. Please consider your alternative health care choices, such as your GP, Out of Hours service or your local pharmacist.”

Further information on Norvirus can be accessed at:

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