Visitors urged to stay away from CUH

Visitors urged to stay away from CUH
The Emergency Department waiting room at Cork University Hospital. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

VISITORS have been urged to avoid Cork University Hospital amid a continuation of the vomiting bug and flu outbreak which has flooded the hospital’s isolation units.

Sixteen patients have been diagnosed with influenza, seven with norovirus — commonly known as the vomiting bug — while a further 31 currently need to be isolated having come in contact with the norovirus which is highly contagious.

An influenza and norovirus outbreak was reported at CUH last week, after 17 inpatients were diagnosed with the flu and a further 10 presented with the Norovirus.

Monday was the first day without a new diagnosis at CUH since the beginning of the flu season.

“The current surge has put a lot of pressure on our isolation facilities,” said Dr Mike O’Connor, Clinical Director at CUH.

“Between our flu patients, norovirus patients and those who’ve come into contact with the virus, our isolation rooms are completely full.”

The Infection Prevention and Control Team continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and the hospital stated that, in order to manage the outbreak, visiting restrictions in CUH remain in place.

Strict visitor restrictions were put in place more than two weeks ago due to a surge in the number of patients with flu-like symptoms.

“It’s very important for people to abide by the restrictions,” said Dr O’Connor.

“Illnesses like the flu and norovirus are, in most cases, brought into the hospital by visitors who have come into contact with it outside the hospital. It’s very important to do all we can to prevent the spread,” he added.

The Evening Echo reported last week that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to a sudden surge of a new flu strain which accounts for up to 60% of cases in some parts of the country.

“This strain of flu, while a minor illness for most, will have a particularly bad effect on the very elderly and the very young,” warned Dr O’Connor.

Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in Ireland, affecting people of all ages.

“While the norovirus is never life-threatening, it can cause very severe symptoms from vomiting and diarrhoea to severe stomach cramps and pains.”

While Dr O’Connor is optimistic that the flu season may not get any worse, he said we are not out of the woods yet.

“I’d hate to say that it’s over just yet because the flu season can always surprise you,” he said.

“But hopefully we have seen the worst of it and we can get back to some normality in the coming weeks.”

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