Health alert after outbreak of virus

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HEALTH chiefs today issued hygiene warnings after investigating an outbreak of norovirus on the Fylde coast.

A number of hotels, care homes, schools and hospitals have been affected by the contagious virus – known as the winter vomiting bug – in the last few weeks, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Dr Steven Gee, from the HPA, warned people should take extra precautions, and in particular avoid visiting hospitals if they are suffering from sickness

He said: “There is a lot of norovirus around at the moment. In the last few weeks a number of hotels in Blackpool have been affected. All the hospitals in Lancashire have been affected at one time or another and a number of care homes too. It’s not unusual to have outbreaks in institutions at this time of year.

“The hospitals are well practised with dealing with it. They have very stringent procedures in place.”

In recent cases, sickness has been reported at the Claremont Hotel and the Cliffs Hotel on the Promenade in Blackpool.

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Paula Bell told The Gazette her 66-year-old parents, Pauline and Derek Hume, had to cut their trip to the resort short after falling ill while staying at the Cliffs.

Mrs Bell, from Newcastle, said: “My dad was really bad, vomiting, and my mum was being sick.

“They were kindly asked to stay in their room and have now come home.”

Eddie Nelder, director at Choice Hotels, explained guests in four rooms at the Claremont reported sickness last week.

New arrivals to the Claremont were then transferred to the Cliffs Hotel, where guests in 11 rooms have since been struck down with illness this week.

He said: “We took the precaution to move people to the Cliffs while we cleaned and aired the building (the Claremont).

“It hasn’t come from the Claremont to the Cliffs, someone else has brought it in with them.

“We have really stringent procedures in place and sanitising sprays around the buildings.”

The Claremont was due to re-open again today.

Blackpool Council has investigated two outbreaks of sickness bugs in the past few weeks.

A council spokesman said: “In each case we visit the property, take samples and offer the owners advice on measures that can be implemented to prevent the spread of infection.”

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