01/02/2013 09:22 EST | Updated 03/04/2013 05:12 EST

Norovirus shuts down floor of Royal Columbian

An entire floor of New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital has been shut down because of a Norovirus outbreak.

Officials say 12 patients and six staff members were affected.

Fraser Health Authority spokesperson Tasleem Juma says the virus hasn't affected the rest of the hospital.

"Other wards are taking on extra patients, so yes it does make things a little bit more inconvenient but by no means unmanageable."

Juma says the virus is highly contagious and very common this time of year.

Norovirus infections are characterized by a sudden onset of diarrhea and nausea. Symptoms usually last an average of 24 hours.

It can be transmitted from person to person via contaminated food or commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles and light switches.