About forty operating room and recovery staff at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, British Columbia were home recovering from gastrointestinal symptoms at the end of last week, causing 26 elective surgeries to be delayed last Thursday and Friday. Kudos to the hospital staff, as no patients have been reported as becoming ill. Health officials explained the symptoms started not long after a staff Christmas lunch last Tuesday. Three samples from the staff tested positive for norovirus, and yesterday it was reported that the restaurant that catered the meal had other patrons on Friday who also became sick within 48 hours. The restaurant closed for intensive cleaning and has been working with health officials to prevent further cases.
Norovirus woes continue in the UK this season, with ward closures for visitors and for new admissions, including a case yesterday where ambulances were having to wait in line to unload patients at the York Teaching Hospital because of a lack of open beds. The UK has been very proactive in trying to prevent norovirus in their hospitals, including a recent promotional campaign by one of the trusts urging hospital visitors to check on the frequency of the staff’s handwashing as well as their own. It is a good reminder for all of us to pay particular attention to handwashing and other ways of protecting ourselves from noroviruses.