More than 180 people have reportedly contracted the winter vomiting bug norovirus, after a visitor brought a patient some mussels as a present.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has restricted visitors from visiting a number of hospitals to stop the spread.
Visitor restrictions will be partially lifted in unaffected wards, but some wards will remain in lockdown this weekend, the NHS Trust confirmed.
Two wards at Wansbeck General Hospital, three wards at North Tyneside General Hospital, four wards at The Northumbria (Cramlington), and one ward at Hexham General Hospital will remain closed until at least Sunday.
“The outbreak continues to impact sites across the trust with both patients and staff affected,” said a Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust statement.
“Outpatient services are unaffected.
“We know it’s Christmas and are doing everything we can to allow as much access as is safe – we are hugely grateful for the support our staff have received from the public and ask that this understanding continues.
“Affected wards will be reviewed daily and this page will be updated with the latest news.
“In areas where visiting is open please remain vigilant: wash your hands thoroughly [soap and water – not alcohol gel].”
For patients receiving end of life care, the visiting restriction wouldn’t apply.
Visitors will be allowed into unaffected wards for one hour on Saturday December 23, between 2pm and 3pm.
The following wards are closed, and are not open to visitors on Saturday:
- Wansbeck General Hospital: Wards 5 and 9
- North Tyneside General Hospital: Wards 15, 18 and 24
- The Northumbria (Cramlington): Wards 3, 4, 10 and ITU (critical care)
- Hexham General Hospital: Ward 2
Norovirus was reportedly brought into the hospitals in a batch of mussels, according to BBC News.
Shellfish can be a source of norovirus, as it can survive in marine water for long periods of time, according to Washing State Department of Health.
The NHS trust has asked people not to visit hospitals if they have symptoms of norovirus, or any other respiratory or flu-like symptoms.
People carrying viruses “will only endanger yourself, our staff and your loved ones”, it said.
The visitor restrictions were first launched on Monday December 18.
At the time, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said patients had symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, due to norovirus.
Hospital patients are particularly susceptible to having severe illness, which can be extremely debilitating, it added.