Norovirus suspected at Wairoa Hospital

By Corey Charlton, APNZ

A bug suspected to be the highly contagious norovirus has broken out at the Wairoa Hospital and Health Centre, affecting an unknown number of staff and patients.

A Hawke's Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) spokesperson said they were still unconfirmed cases, but all unnecessary visits to the hospital's acute ward have been restricted in an effort to control it.

The spokesperson would not say how many people had been affected but it had not reached Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings.

If showing symptoms, the HBDHB recommended people should be kept in isolation for at least 48 hours. Those in isolation at the hospital would be treated by staff with protective gloves and gowns.

A memo issued yesterday by HBDHB smokefree liaison and nurse adviser Sonya Smith stated: "Some staff and patients have presented with symptoms that could be norovirus."

"These are unconfirmed cases, however, if you have these symptoms it is important that you are not at work exposing others."

HBDHB rural services manager Claire Caddie said while norovirus had not been confirmed it was better to isolate sick patients and restrict people visiting patients in the acute ward to stop further spread.

Norovirus is a common, highly contagious cause of gastroenteritis. The virus is often transmitted by eating uncooked shellfish but it can also be spread via airborne particles and contaminated surfaces, such as door knobs.

The virus has affected several hospitals in the North Island in the past week.

On Thursday, The Herald reported 113 people had contracted norovirus and there were outbreaks at Tauranga Hospital and two retirement villages in Gisborne.

Middlemore Hospital closed one ward and banned children from visiting on Thursday as it battled to contain the outbreak.

Access to other wards was also restricted.

At Tauranga Hospital, three wards have been affected by an outbreak of the virus. Children were not being allowed into wards earlier in the week unless on compassionate grounds. Other measures were also taken to prevent the spread of the disease, with visitors required to wear gowns and gloves before visiting affected patients.

There is no specific treatment for the virus, which usually stays in the body for 12 hours to three days, though extra fluids and rest are recommended.


  • Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. The virus is highly contagious and can survive outside of the body, and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board recommends the following for those showing symptoms:

  • Stay home until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

  • Wash hands thoroughly, especially after going to the toilet, changing a nappy and before handling food.

  • Clean hard surfaces, toys, bathrooms and utensils as they can become contaminated with the virus.

  • Wash dirty clothing in hot water and rinse separately from the rest of the laundry.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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