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Norovirus almost wiped out

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Norovirus almost wiped out

THE health chief for Dumfries and Galloway has this week spoken about an unexpected positive spin-off from covid hygiene measures.

Jeff Ace, chief executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway, explained that an increase in the washing of hands and use of alcohol gels had “pretty much eliminated” norovirus.

Norovirus is the vomiting and diarrhoea bug which has led to bed shortages in hospitals in previous winters, and put a strain on healthcare services.

Medical experts say that it is very easily spread from one person to another, however cases have dropped dramatically in Scotland.

Mr Ace said: “One of the risk factors we had for this winter was a norovirus outbreak because we traditionally lose a fair bit of capacity across Scotland due to that diarrheoa and vomiting bug.

“We’ve not seen norovirus at any level for two years in Scotland, so not just locally but Scotland-wide.

“I think we need to reflect after the pandemic in terms of the hand washing compliance, the greater use of alcohol gel.

“It probably hasn’t done an awful lot for Covid to be honest, but for norovirus we seem to have been able to move to a completely different level.

“I think across Scotland we need to reflect on that, and look at how we manage future winters when the pandemic is hopefully behind us because norovirus has a significant clinical impact in terms of capacity.

“And a significant impact in terms of vulnerable people catching it aswell.

“We pretty much eliminated it over the last couple of years. So, it’s a real learning for us here I think.”

Public Health Scotland released a report earlier this month which backed up Jeff Ace’s comments.

It stated that there were just 43 cases of norovirus across the whole of Scotland for the first four weeks of 2022, whereas the five-year average for the same time period was 133.

The document states: “Norovirus is a virus that is a common cause of infectious gastroenteritis that results in diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

“Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days, however infection can be more serious for the very young and elderly.

“The virus is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals from one person to another.”

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