Visitors have been asked to stay away from Leeds hospitals in a bid to contain an outbreak of a sickness bug.
Norovirus has so far affected 14 wards at St James’s Hospital, where two of the wards are currently closed to admissions.
Bosses at the hospital have urged visitors not to come onto the wards there or at Leeds General Infirmary to prevent the spread of the fast-developing and virulent strain of the bug.
They say if visiting is absolutely necessary, people should ring the ward beforehand – and they have appealed for anyone with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting only not to come to either of the city’s accident and emergency units, as they risk passing on the infectious virus to others.
Clive Walsh, interim chief operating officer for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “Here in Leeds we have not seen anything like this level of infection so far this winter and we urgently need the help of the public to keep this highly infectious bug under control.
“A key way of doing that is not to come into the hospital to visit relatives or friends on wards unless absolutely necessary. Patients, staff and visitors are all at risk.
“We understand that of course people do want to visit their loved ones but we are asking them to telephone the ward before coming into the hospital to check whether they are able to visit, and be understanding if the advice from ward staff is not to do so.
“Keeping vulnerable patients safe is our top priority, as contracting this infection on top of existing health problems can have very serious consequences.”
Hand hygiene and regular washing with soap and water is vital to help keep the bug under control.
Anyone with symptoms should stay at home until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.