A third hospital ward has been closed as Bedford Hospital continues to battle the Norovirus bug.
Routine operations have been cancelled as the winter vomiting bug has created a backlog of patients with those being admitted outweighing the numbers being sent home.
The Arnold Whitchurch, Whitbread and Russell wards have been closed and patients are only allowed one visitor at a time for a maximum of one hour.
A combination of the ward closures and continued high demand, particularly from emergency admissions, has resulted in very limited capacity across the hospital.
It means there are longer waiting times at A&E and some routine operations have been cancelled in a bid to free up beds for urgent cases.
People are being urged to only go to A&E if their condition is serious or life-threatening and they cannot be helped by a GP, pharmacist or walk in centre.
Visitors should wash their hands with soap and water when entering and leaving wards as alcohol gel does not kill the highly contagious virus.
The following advice has been issued about coping with Norovirus:
>If you have norovirus, stay at home. Do not attend A&E or your GP surgery.
>To help ease your symptoms, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains. If you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest.
>Ring your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.
>Extra care should be taken to prevent babies and small children who have diarrhoea and vomiting from dehydrating by giving them plenty of fluids. Babies and young children can still drink milk. Don’t worry if you’re pregnant and you get norovirus. There’s no risk to your unborn child.
>Do not visit loved ones in hospital or nursing homes until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours. And stay away from work, or school, until you have recovered.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/Norovirus