Sandwell hospital’s main block has been closed to visitors after an outbreak of winter sickness bug norovirus swept through wards striking 45 patients.
Bosses of Sandwell Hospital, in West Bromwich, have banned the public to halt the spread of the virus for the second time in nine months.
It comes after patients and staff on three wards – Priory 3, Newton 4 and Priory 5 – fell victim to the bug, forcing them to be sealed off to everyone including new patients at the weekend.
On Monday morning, Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust decided to shut all 12 adult wards to visitors for 24 hours.
New patients were allowed onto bug-free wards, but relatives and visitors were turned away this morning, before a review at 10.30am.
Visitors were banned in April along with those to Rowley Regis Hospital, run by the same trust,
Jo Messenger, Trust spokeswoman, said the children’s, maternity and intensive care units, in separate blocks, were allowed to run as normal.
“The trust has taken the precautionary measure of stopping all visiting to adult wards for 24 hours but the situation will be reviewed on a daily basis,” she said. “Around 15 patients on Priory 3 and 11 have been confirmed as affected by norovirus. A further 17 patients and two staff on wards Newton 4 and Priory 5 have symptoms and these are under investigation.
"Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust apologises for any inconvenience this causes, but feels restricting visiting is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the virus prevalent in the community at this time.”
Trust bosses, who run Winson Green’s City Hospital, said restricted visiting was being allowed for exceptional cases discussed with ward managers.
They ordered nurses to ring relatives, warning them to stay away from Sandwell Hospital yesterday.
Dr Beryl Oppenheim, trust director of infection prevention and control, said: “People in the community suffering diarrhoea and vomiting, unless it is extremely severe, should avoid coming in as an admission. If you have been suffering diarrhoea or vomiting you should not visit anyone in hospital until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours.”
Signs warning of the outbreak and “no routine visiting” were displayed in the unusually quiet lobby.
Tony Field, of Northfield-based MRSA Support, which campaigns nationally for infection control, said: “I agree it is best to ban visitors as it is the appropriate action but there is no excuse for the numerous outbreaks spreading through wards.
"There are products on the market that have been proved to wipe out norovirus within hours without moving patients and hospital bosses don’t tackle the issue of cleaning air. Companies have to keep updating with new technology but hospitals aren’t when it comes to cleaning.”