Ward ‘sealed off’ in flu alert at hospital

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Pensioners in South Tyneside Hospital say they’ve been ‘sealed off’ in their ward due to patients coming down with flu.

Hospital bosses at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust have confirmed a ‘very small’ number of patients have become ill with flu at the hospital - with several more patients suspected of having the virus.

South Tyneside District Hospital.

South Tyneside District Hospital.

Patient Veronica Connell, from Jarrow, is currently on Ward 10 at the Harton Lane site in South Shields, after being admitted last Thursday with breathing issues.

The 67–year–old and her fellow patients - aged between 63 and 83 - say they have been told they must stay on their ward, wear masks and have been given the antiviral medicine Tamiflu.

Veronica said: “We were just told around 9am on Tuesday that our ward would be closed off and that we would be designated a special toilet which we all had to use. We were old we could only leave the ward for to use the toilet and had to wear a mask at all times.

“We are all finding the whole situation extremely frightening,

“Each one of us came in here with quite a serious illness in the first place and we have no idea when we will be told what is happening.”

Hospital chiefs say flu in hospital is not unusual at this time of year and the infection controls which are in place are correct.

Just before Christmas medics were urging people to stay away from the hospital to stop the spread of the winter vomiting bug - which is also known as norovirus.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s medical director Dr Shaz Wahid said: “We have a very small number of patients at South Tyneside District Hospital with confirmed flu and several with suspected flu, for whom we are awaiting test results.”

He added: “This is not unusual for this time of year. All patients with confirmed or suspected flu are being nursed with appropriate infection prevention and control precautions, which include isolation within side rooms or a ward bay to avoid spreading the virus.”

People, who are usually healthy can manage flu symptoms at home and health experts say there’s no need to see a GP.

Those who feel unwell and have a fever, can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower their temperature and relieve aches.

Children under 16 should not be given aspirin.

People are advised to stay off work or school until they are feeling better. They should see their GP if your symptoms get worse or last longer than a week, or if they are at a higher risk of becoming more seriously ill.

This includes people who: are 65 or over; are pregnant; have a lung, heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease; have a weakened immune system, or who have diabetes.