VISITING restrictions are in force at Basingstoke hospital after 14 patients were stricken with the winter vomiting bug.

Patients with the Norovirus have been moved to isolation bays within wards.

A total of five medical wards have been infected on E and F floors and will now undergo a deep clean.

Bosses at the hospital in Aldermaston Road, have imposed reduced visiting hours and are asking anyone with symptoms to stay clear.

Gina Hanafin, head of communications, said: “We have been aware that Norovirus has been in the local community for a number of weeks and this is now affecting the hospital.”

To reduce the outbreak, visiting has been cut to just one hour in the afternoon, from 2pm to 3pm and one hour in the evening, 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

The restrictions will be in place until 72 hours after the last reported case.

Mrs Hanafin added: “We would strongly advise people not to visit the hospital if they are experiencing any symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting and that they are completely clear of these for at least 48 hours.”

Norovirus is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and although relatively mild, the illness can occur at any age because immunity to it is not long-lasting.

The outbreak comes as the hospital formally opened its new ten-bed isolation ward on E-floor, where it is treating patients with potentially lethal hospital-acquired bugs such as C-diff and MRSA.

However, no Norovirus patients are being treated on the ward.

Dr Fatima El-Bakri, the hospital’s consultant microbiologist, said: “We know some hospital-acquired infections are not preventable and complete eradication is difficult to achieve.

“However, our own local evidence shows that good isolation procedures for our patients alongside basic infection control precautions like hand washing make a big difference.”