AN outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting has forced the closure of a ward at a hospital in the Borders.

NHS Borders has confirmed the inpatient ward at Kelso Hospital is closed to new admissions as a precautionary measure due to patients experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms (including diarrhoea and vomiting).

The situation is being monitored and managed by NHS Borders Infection Prevention and Control Team with support from frontline colleagues.

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) last week announced that there has been an increase in levels of norovirus, better known as the winter vomiting bug, across Scotland. New figures show that NHS Boards are experiencing increased norovirus activity.

Evelyn Rodger, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Acute Services said:  “In order to safeguard vulnerable patients and enable us to limit the spread of this highly infectious virus, we continue to ask members of the public to carefully consider their visits to community hospitals and the Borders General Hospital, and that anyone who has experienced diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms in the past 48 hours does not visit the hospital."

Dr Ed James, Consultant Microbiologist said “Norovirus is one of the most common causes of diarrhoea and vomiting illness. It is very infectious and spreads quickly between people. This is why outbreaks happen in hospitals where a number of people are sharing facilities. However it doesn’t just occur in hospitals, and can start abruptly and spread quickly through communities.

“It is vital to protect yourselves and your loved ones from catching this unpleasant virus. Patients, visitors and staff can help minimise the spread by complying with instructions given by staff and paying attention to the signs at the entrances to the hospital and wards.”