Norovirus Outbreak At Royal Columbian Hospital Closes Wards Until Friday

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Two wards at Royal Columbian Hospital are expected to remain closed until at least Friday. (RCH Foundation) | RCH Foundation

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - The highly-contagious norovirus may have surfaced at a second hospital in Metro Vancouver.

Officials at Vancouver General Hospital are monitoring for the disease after symptoms of the illness showed up in a ward and residential floor of the hospital.

Earlier, two wards of Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster were quarantined after at least 18 people were confirmed with cases of the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea.

The latest illness at RCH was diagnosed Tuesday, meaning the earliest the quarantine can be lifted is Jan. 4.

Fraser Health spokeswoman Tasleem Juma said 12 patients and six staff members have been affected, but the emergency room of the hospital remains open.

"We are still dealing with two floors that have been closed due to the virus. This is a measure in order to contain the spread of the virus. Patients are continuing to be discharged when they are ready to be sent home," Juma said.

To stop further spread of the norovirus, workers at the hospital are being extra careful.

"We are taking measures to enhance cleaning, to limit visitor hours, in and out access of rooms. We encourage visitors who do come to hospital to wash their hands," Juma said.

Anna-Marie DeAngelo of the Coastal Health Authority said at VGH, a containment protocol has been put in place in two areas of the hospital.

"This time of year, you see a lot more cases because norovirus is circulating a lot more in the community," she said.

DeAngelo is warning people to stay away from the hospital if they have the virus to prevent spreading it to vulnerable people in care. (CKNW,News1130)

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