Help prevent the spread of Norovirus

Norovirus, which is very infectious, is the most common stomach bug in the UK. It is, generally, mild and most people make a full recovery within one to two days.

The current outbreak comes at a time when the NHS in South Tyneside, as in the whole of the North East, is under severe pressure and people across the region are being urged to stay away from A&E unless they are seriously unwell or in need of critical or life-saving care.

Facts about Norovirus

• Norovirus, or winter vomiting, causes a very unpleasant but, generally, short-lived illness from which people will usually recover without treatment. The main symptom is vomiting, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea, and some people may have a raised temperature and experience headaches and aching limbs. There is no specific treatment and the illness just has to run its course. Most people make a full recovery within one to two days.

• It is estimated that Norovirus affects between 600,000 and one million people in the United Kingdom every year.

• General advice for people who think they have norovirus:

Stay at home and take plenty of fluids 

If symptoms persist or become progressively worse, please seek medical advice by asking for a telephone consultation with your family doctor. Try to avoid visiting your GP surgery or local A&E as you may pass the infection on to others

Wash hands thoroughly and regularly at all times but particularly after using the toilet and before eating

Do not visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes until you have fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours to avoid putting vulnerable people at risk

Stay away from work or school until you have fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for 48 hours

Do not handle or prepare food for other people until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours

General advice on choosing the right NHS service

1. Use the NHS Choices website for health advice and information about where to go to get the right treatment.

2. See your local pharmacist – your pharmacist can advise on a wide range of common illnesses. If you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cough or cold, get immediate help from your pharmacist before it becomes more serious. Search for more information and to help you find your nearest NHS pharmacy and opening hours.

3. If you need medical help fast, but it’s not life-threatening or an emergency, call NHS 111 at any time for advice.

4. Get the flu jab – If you have a long term health condition or are over 65, cold weather can seriously endanger your health. Ask your GP or pharmacist for details.

5. Self-care: for many winter ailments such as coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms, people don’t need to go to A&E or their local GP practice and are better off taking some paracetamol, drinking plenty of fluids and resting.

6. Stock up your medicine cabinet – make sure you have the essentials.

7. If you care for children, the child health app is free to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.