Norovirus outbreak declared at Royal Columbian Hospital

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The Fraser Health Authority has revealed that 12 patients and six staff contracted the highly contagious Norovirus at Royal Columbian Hospital.

"A few of those patients and staff have already recovered—and the rest are recovering," Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma told the Straight by phone.

Also known as the Norwalk virus, it causes nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea for one to three days, as well fever and stomach cramps.

Juma said that Norovirus broke out in wards Six North (a medical unit) and Six South (an older adult care unit) on December 28 in the New Westminster tertiary-care hospital..

Patients remain in the wards, but these two areas are closed to new admissions.

"The hospital is functioning normally," Juma emphasized. "The emergency department is still open and functioning normally. So people should not be concerned that the hospital is somehow closing down."

She added that the wards where Norovirus broke out are close to the admission area, but the public is still being served.

Juma advised people with flulike symptoms to stay home to stem the spread of Norovirus.

"If they do need to come to the emergency department, then by all means do so," she noted. "But maybe identify yourself to staff so we can keep you isolated from other people in the emergency department and also limit the spread of the virus that way."

According to Juma, the hospital has put extra cleaning protocols in place.

"We are restating the importance of things like hand hygiene and cough etiquette for patients and for visitors and for staff," she said. "It's unfortunate that it's happened, but it happens in the winter. It's fairly common for people to get this kind of virus."

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