Temporary visiting restriction lifted at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

Visitor restriction lifted at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh NHS Lothian has lifted a temporary restriction on visitors at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The restriction, which was enforced on Thursday 14 March, proved effective in helping to limit the spread of norovirus amongst patients, the public and staff.

All previously affected wards at the hospital have now reopened to new admissions and relatives and friends of patients are once again able to visit.

Dr Kate Templeton, Chair of the Incident Management Team and Consultant Medical Virologist, NHS Lothian, said: “I would like to thank the public and patients for their co-operation and understanding during this period. Although the restriction may have been inconvenient to visitors, it played a key role in stopping the virus spread.

“I would also extend my gratitude to the staff who have worked tirelessly to deal with this incident; their commitment and dedication has proved invaluable.”

Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis in the UK. The main symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea, and the virus is highly contagious. Although there is no specific treatment the infection usually only lasts for a few days and most people make a full recovery.

Dr. Margaret Douglas, Deputy Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, said: “The past few months have been challenging but with the exceptional hard work of all staff and the understanding of patients and visitors we have been able to manage the situation.

“We understand it may have been frustrating but relatives and friends of patients have overwhelmingly supported our efforts and staff have constantly updated visitors on the situation.

“Norovirus is highly contagious and therefore where even one patient displays symptoms a whole ward may need to be shut to new admissions to restrict the spread of the infection.

“While we have strict infection control procedures in place to contain any outbreaks within our hospitals, which includes closing wards to new admissions, visitors can help by washing their hands when entering and leaving wards and not coming into hospital if they are feeling unwell.”

If you are visiting a friend or relative in hospital please remember to:

Make sure your hands are clean. This is one of the most important ways to stop infections spreading. Please wash your hands when entering or leaving hospital wards.

Don’t visit if you are feeling unwell. Patients can be more susceptible to infections than those who are generally well. If you aren’t well enough to visit you are welcome to phone the ward.

Don’t visit until 48 hours after vomiting or diarrhoea. If you have vomiting or diarrhoea you should not visit patients in hospital until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. This is important because you may be infectious for up to 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped.

Don’t prepare or bring in food unless this has been agreed with the Nurse in Charge.