FORTY-SIX beds in two wards at the University Hospital of North Tees were closed after an outbreak of norovirus.
Wards 39 and 40 at the hospital, in Stockton, were closed to new admissions from Friday, February 22 to Sunday, March 2 after the outbreak of the infection.
A spokeswoman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The beds on two wards were closed to admissions.
“Each of the wards had patients in them at the time but we did not admit new patients on to the wards until they were reopened on advice from our infection prevention and control team.
“We would also not transfer any patients from the wards affected to reduce the risk of spread of the infection to other patients and other wards.”
Two bays in the wards are still closed but were expected to be open again today.
Trust bosses say the wards affected are both elderly medical wards and put the outbreak down to the winter weather conditions.
The spokeswoman added: “This is a normal occurrence in winter.
“A number of care homes and schools also report outbreaks during this period and, as we have patients and visitors arriving on our wards from a number of settings, it is inevitable that some will have been in contact with a person with symptoms or will have been unwell themselves.
“People in their own homes also suffer from viral infections causing diarrhoea and vomiting, and maybe our patients, visitors and staff.”
Despite the outbreak, the trust say there has been a marked reduction in cases of norovirus.
The spokeswoman said: “There were 12 such ward closures, where they were closed to new admissions, in 2013/14 compared to 22 in the previous year.
“The protocol is to either close a bay or to close the ward to new admissions and transfers and to not discharge or transfer patients elsewhere until the outbreak has settled, depending on the number of patients affected.
“Extra vigilance with hand hygiene is implemented and additional cleaning is put in place for any affected ward.
“Once the patients have been free of symptoms for 48 hours the ward is fully cleaned and reopens to function as normal.”