01/03/2013 00:33 EST | Updated 03/04/2013 05:12 EST

Norovirus outbreak hits Vancouver General Hospital

Vancouver General Hospital has been hit by an outbreak of norovirus, but officials say it is not likely related to an outbreak reported at New Westminster's Royal Columbian Hospital.

Anna Marie D'Angelo, speaking for Vancouver Coastal Health, said it is not out of the ordinary for the virus to appear in the wards in the winter.

"Norovirus is circulating in the community right now, and it does so every year at this time. Whenever something is circulating in the community, it is going to be reflected in our hospital and facilities as well."

One ward in the hospital's Centennial Pavilion is "under containment protocol," she said.

D'Angelo could not say how many people have become ill from the virus — which could in fact be one of many that cause acute gastroenteritis, which is sometimes also called "stomach flu."

"Norovirus is like the flu. If you get that, you're going to be in bed. It's not like a cold, where you can function," D'Angelo said.

The hospital is discouraging visitors on the ward while it in under containment, in order to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus.

D'Angelo also said that people should always wash or disinfect their hands before visiting a hospital and entering any ward.