A nursing unit at the Halifax Infirmary has been temporarily closed to visitors after some patients and staff have fallen ill with norovirus-like symptoms.

Four patients and one staff member at Nursing Unit 4.1 are exhibiting symptoms of norovirus, also known as Norwalk virus.

Symptoms of the highly contagious virus include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramping. In serious cases the virus can be fatal, but Capital Health spokesman John Gillis said yesterday none of the reported incidents have been serious as of yet.

“(There have been) no serious illness here that I’m aware of,” he said. “It’s something that kind of comes and goes pretty quickly but it’s unpleasant while you have it.”

Last week, a nursing home in Musquodoboit Harbour closed its doors to visitors after a similar outbreak. According to Gillis, a total of 12 residents and 14 staff members at the Birches Nursing Home fell ill.

Gillis said it’s unlikely the two outbreaks are directly connected.

“Norovirus circulates in the community, so in both instances it probably came into the facilities from ... people visiting,” Gillis told Metro last week. “I don’t think there’s likely a connection between the two separate outbreaks.”

For the time being, Capital Health is urging anyone who may be sick to stay away from hospitals and nursing homes for at least three days after the symptoms end.

Gillis is also recommending that the general public take measures to avoid infection, such as regular hand washing and staying home when you’re sick.

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