THE public is being urged not to visit a major hospital where more than 40 patients have contracted the rampant winter vomiting bug.
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin is currently managing an outbreak of norovirus -- also known as the winter vomiting virus -- which has affected patients and staff across many wards.
Almost 40 beds are unavailable at the busy hospital as a result of quarantine arrangements put in place to deal with the outbreak.
The hospital is urging people not to visit unless it is really essential and unavoidable.
A hospital spokesman said a total of 42 patients had symptoms of the virus at the hospital, which are severe abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea.
"The outbreak is being managed appropriately," the spokesman said, "but we really do need the co-operation of the public in dealing with it.
"So far we have refrained from imposing an all-out ban on visiting. But we may have to do that if people do not fully respect the existing restrictions."
The current restrictions are that only truly essential visits should be made, there should never be more than one visitor per patient and visiting is confined to 2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 8pm.
The spokesman also emphasised that children should not be brought in as visitors under any circumstances whatsoever.
"We do understand that people are anxious to spend time with loved ones who are in hospital over the festive season," he said.
"But this virus is highly transmissible and it is in everyone's best interests -- patients, visitors and staff -- to limit all movement within the hospital as much as we possibly can.
"Our message is simple, please help us to do our job to care for your loved ones,"the spokesman added.
The virus normally lasts 24 -- 48 hours and does not usually require medical treatment.