Swine flu outbreak: Three hospital wards closed in Leicester, Report

Three of the patients affected by swine flu following an outbreak of the infection on three wards at Leicester Royal Infirmary have been discharged from hospital.

Although 11 of the 14 patients who were being treated for cancer remain in hospital, more are likely to be discharged over the weekend.

A spokesman for Leicester’s hospitals said the three haemotology wards at the infirmary remained closed.

Liz Collins, lead nurse for infection prevention at Leicester’s hospitals, said: “We have seen an increase in the number of flu cases in February, in both the community and across our hospital sites.

“Fourteen patients on three haematology wards at the Leicester Royal Infirmary have developed symptoms that have been confirmed as flu. All necessary precautions were taken and these patients have been isolated to avoid an outbreak.

“We ask visitors who have cold and flu symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose or high temperature, to stay away from the hospital to avoid passing on their infections to our patients.”

The wards that have been closed are wards 39, 40 and 41.

All 14 patients remain in isolation either in side rooms or on bays, a statement from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said. All patients are currently being treated with antiviral medication.

Staff are following protocols for preventing the spread of infection, including wearing masks, gowns and gloves and washing hands regularly.

The statement added: “We will be working hard to vaccinate as many frontline staff as possible and will even be holding clinics in their workplaces.

“Wards 39, 40 and 41 have received increased cleaning by our facilities providers.”

Dr Philip Monk, consultant in communicable disease control with Public Health England in the East Midlands, said: “On Monday, it was thought three people on the wards might have flu, and because these patients have very little immunity, it was decided to swab all patients and 14 were confirmed as positive.”

According to the latest Public Health England (PHE) data, 31 outbreaks of flu were reported in the seven days to February 14.

Nine outbreaks were in schools, where one tested positive for swine flu. Eleven outbreaks were from care homes and eight outbreaks were from hospitals, where four tested positive for swine flu.

There were 126 new admissions to intensive care and high dependency units with confirmed flu, of which 54 were for H1N1 swine flu.

The H1N1 virus first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spread around the world, causing an estimated 200,000 deaths across the globe.

The virus is contagious and can spread from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

There are antiviral medicines you can take to prevent or treat swine flu. There is a vaccine available to protect against swine flu. You can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza by

  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Trying to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Staying home from work or school if you are sick.
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