Norovirus outbreaks increasing in care homes in England. How can the QCS system help you? | QCS

Norovirus outbreaks increasing in care homes in England. How can the QCS system help you?

Dementia Care
March 7, 2022

Norovirus outbreaks in care homes have risen in recent weeks, leading the UKHSA to remind people of simple steps that can be taken to limit the spread of the bug.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said there has been a rise in the number of norovirus outbreaks in care homes and is reminding everyone what they can do to reduce the spread of norovirus.

The advice comes after routine surveillance in England shows that the number of outbreaks caused by the vomiting bug has increased in recent weeks in care home settings – with a rise from 24 reported to the UKHSA in week 6 (week commencing 7 February), to 40 reported in week 7 (week commencing 14 February).

While outbreaks reported in care home settings overall remain below pre-pandemic expected levels, it is likely they will continue to increase in the coming weeks and a rise in norovirus outbreaks in care home settings often precedes an increase in outbreaks in hospital settings.

Our QCS Specialist, Barry Price, says ‘It’s important to note that outbreaks remain below pre-pandemic levels and an increase in outbreaks of the ‘winter vomiting bug,’ among others, is expected as we continue to move out of COVID-19 restrictions. Providers should already have robust infection control policies and procedures in place to support them to identify, manage and take appropriate actions in response to any norovirus symptoms.

How can the QCS system help with this?

The QCS system comes with infection control and outbreak management policies and procedures.

Other relevant policies available include:

  • Staff Vaccination and Immunisation Policy and Procedure
  • Service User Vaccines and Immunisation Policy and Procedure
  • Sickness Absence Policy and Procedure
  • Business Continuity Policy and Procedure

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is highly infectious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea but usually passes in a couple of days. It is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals or contaminated surfaces.

How to reduce the spread of norovirus

  1. Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms. Do not return to work or send children to school until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. Also avoid visiting elderly or poorly relatives, particularly if they are in hospital or a care home
  2. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels do not kill Norovirus
  3. When an infected person vomits, the droplets contaminate the surrounding surfaces. A bleach-based household cleaner or a combination of bleach and hot water should be used to disinfect potentially contaminated household surfaces and commonly used objects such as toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces
  4. If you are ill, avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped, as norovirus can be spread through food contaminated by the virus when food is handled by symptomatic people or infected individuals
  5. Wash any contaminated clothing or bedding using detergent and at 60°C. If possible, wear disposable gloves to handle contaminated items

Further information

The UKHSA’s National Norovirus Surveillance Team will continue to closely monitor all available surveillance data to ensure early detection of any unusual norovirus activity and outbreaks.

You can view the National Norovirus and Rotavirus Bulletin here