AN OUTBREAK of a diarrhoea and vomiting bug at Basingstoke hospital is continuing to spread and is showing no signs of letting up.

Eight wards - with about 20 patients on each - have now been isolated and visiting hours have been drastically cut in a bid to discourage the public from visiting the hospital and so prevent the bug spreading further.

An urgent message was sent out from the hospital on Friday for people not to visit patients unless it is absolutely necessary.

The closed wards are on E floor, the adult medicine floor, where patients have either had the virus, are currently showing symptoms or have been in contact with those infected.

Staff at the hospital are now also being segregated, with only a select group working on the infected wards.

Donna Green, director of nursing and operations at the hospital, said: "We are doing everything we possibly can. It's concerning that the situation has continued for some time, but this is typical of a bug like this. We are hoping that the cold weather will help control it somewhat.

"We are regularly testing the patients for the bug, and will continue to do so for 72 hours after the bug appears to have gone.

"It's making our jobs very difficult because we are having to segregate staff and have staff specifically working in the contaminated areas, so staffing has been challenging.

"We would ask the public to help us to try and arrest the situation by avoiding visiting the hospital wherever possible."

The hospital is requesting that children under 12 and the elderly do not visit the hospital at all.

All visitors are being asked to rub the alcohol gel Spirigel on their hands when entering the hospital, and posters have been put up around the building to warn people about the outbreak. Visitors are also required to wear an apron and gloves within infected areas.

The visiting times have been reduced from 24-hour open visiting to just two hours a day - from 2pm to 3pm and from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. These time periods are set to remain throughout this week.

The bug first struck at the hospital in mid-February with 25 patients infected, initially forcing six wards to close to new admissions.