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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Flu-hit ward set to reopen

THE Copeland Unit at West Cumberland Hospital was set to re-open to admissions yesterday (Wednesday) having been closed since Friday due to a seasonal flu outbreak.

CENIGCALV
advice: Dr Nigel Calvert

The unit was undergoing a deep-clean yesterday morning and expected to re-open in the afternoon, with visitors allowed back in in the evening although they are still urged to stay away if they have any symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting or are frail or otherwise vulnerable to infection.

Twelve patients and six members of staff had experienced symptoms and the decision to close the unit was aimed at ensuring the flu did not spread further. All patients and vulnerable staff groups were offered the antiviral Tamiflu.

Flu is a respiratory illness – the symptoms include headaches, fever, sore throat, aching muscles and joints, most common between December and March. New strains are constantly emerging, which is one of the reasons why the flu vaccine should be given every year.

The Copeland Unit is designed for patients who have already been in hospital and need further care and rehabilitation before being discharged. It is provided by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Joanna Forster Adams, deputy director of operations for Cumbria Partnership, said: “We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. However a temporary closure to admissions allowed us to deal with the outbreak effectively and ensure patient safety.”

Dr Nigel Calvert, an associate director of public health for Cumbria, added: “Flu can be serious and cause serious health complications in people with existing health conditions. This includes children and adults with existing conditions from diabetes to cancer, pregnant women, where both mother and baby can be at risk, and people aged 65 and over.

“The best way people can protect themselves is by having the flu vaccine. It’s freely available for people in at-risk groups and it only takes a few minutes, which is worth it to stop you getting what can be a nasty illness.

“For others who are normally fit and healthy who catch the bug, the best advice is for them to stay at home. Take simple over-the-counter flu remedies which will help to ease symptoms, and by combining these with plenty of rest and fluids they should be feeling better in about a week.

“However, if anyone’s symptoms continue to worsen they should telephone NHS Direct or their GP surgery.’’

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