Residents with flu-like symptoms are being encouraged not to visit hospital over the New Year period.
Officials at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust say that the condition has arrived in force in local hospitals – indicating a much wider outbreak in the community.
As it can be dangerous for elderly or the very young, they are now encouraging people to take sensible precautions and stay away from hospitals.
Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director at the trust, said: “The worst thing about this bug is how easy it is to spread.
“A single unguarded sneeze, unwashed hands or an infected desk surface can all do the job.
“The best idea is to take sensible precautions: get vaccinated, wash your hands regularly and disinfect surfaces you come into contact with.
“If you are caring for a loved one who is sick or vulnerable then these apply even more – especially around food and drink.”
Helen Lamont, director of nursing and patient services at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Flu symptoms can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you may have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better.
“There is usually no need to see a doctor if you have flu-like symptoms.
“The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (becoming too dry). You may want to take simple medication such as paracetamol to lower a high temperature and relieve aches.”
“For some people flu can be more serious and you may be more likely to develop severe flu or a serious complication such as a chest infection or pneumonia.
Dr Rushmer added: “If you are symptomatic (of flu) the main thing is to stay away from hospital unless you are in immediate need of urgent, critical care – and the odds are that won’t be from flu.
“If you do come into hospital you are putting yourself, your loved ones, our staff and other patients at risk so please only do it as a last resort.
“Just think: how would you like it if someone made your vulnerable grandparents sick when they shouldn’t have been there in the first place?
“The NHS will always be here for you when you need us but we need your help to relieve the pressure on our hard-pressed doctors and nurses – after all, they get sick too!”