HEALTH bosses have taken the precautionary decision to ban visitors from North Manchester General Hospital after an outbreak of the norovirus winter vomiting bug.

To ensure the hospital can return to normal as soon as possible, hospital chiefs have closed all wards to visitors for at least 48 hours from today, Thursday December 20.

A Pennine Acute Healthcare Trust spokesman said: "We understand there may be extenuating circumstances where members of the public need to visit loved ones, such as if they are seriously ill.

"If this is the case, the public are asked to call ahead to the ward to arrange visiting.

"If it isn’t deemed as extenuating circumstances, visitors maybe asked not to visit."

"For maternity, neonatal and paediatric services, only the parents or one guardian of a sick child are asked to attend the wards or neonatal unit.

"Where at all possible, no children are to come to the wards to protect themselves from infection as well as mothers, babies and already sick children.

"The Trust recognises this may not be possible for some families and would ask in these circumstances, visitors called the wards ahead of their visit.

"For those members of the public that do visit the hospital, they must not have been sick or had diarrhoea in the last 72 hours or been in close contact with someone who has been ill with these symptoms."

The Trust's director of nursing Marian Carroll said: "While we understand this visiting restriction will cause patients and members of the public some frustration, this measure will allow us to help prevent the spread of the infection and ensure safe patient care.

“Our staff are working extremely hard to deal with this outbreak quickly and this decision will help us return services to normal as soon as possible.

“This decision may seem drastic, but these precautions are to protect our patients and staff and we would appreciate the co-operation of the public."