SIX wards in Southampton have now been shut as hospital bosses battle to stop the spread of a serious sickness bug.

As outbreaks of viral diarrhoea and vomiting continue to spread through the city, staff at Southampton General Hospital are taking action and urging visitors to stay away in the hope of limiting further closures and reducing the risk to vulnerable patients.

Anyone who has suffered diarrhoea or sickness in the last 72 hours are being warned to keep clear of Southampton’s teaching hospitals. Those who are intending to visit the hospital, who have not been affected, are urged to help prevent the spread by observing a series of hygiene rules.

These include washing hands before and after visiting a ward, not sitting on the bed of the person you are visiting, avoid bringing in food and sticking to visiting hours, to allow time for essential cleaning.

Dr Graeme Jones, director of the infection prevention unit, said: “These bugs are highly infectious, particularly with vulnerable patients.

“Visitors should only make essential visits and should not attend if feeling unwell with diarrhoea or vomiting.

“It is also important, where possible, that patients admitted to hospital tell staff if they have symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, or they will pass it on to patients already on our wards.”

It is not yet known when the wards will reopen but staff believe they have seen the worst of the outbreak.