Seven cases of norovirus — also known as the Norwalk virus — at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver has health officials warning potential visitors there will be limited access to two general medicine wards.

Providence Health Care says cases of the flu-like illness are limited to units 7AB and 10C. The facility is now working to prevent the virus from spreading to other areas of the hospital, which remain open to visitors.

"We've taken some preventative measures, some protective measures, that includes bleaching the units very thoroughly. As well we are asking visitors not to come in and visit patients," said Providence Health Care spokesperson Dave Lefebvre.

"If visitors do insist on coming in though, we will be asking them to wear gowns and gloves, and to thoroughly wash their hands both before and after. As well, any staff who might feel like they are symptomatic, we're asking them to stay home and if they're at work then we are sending them home," said Lefebvre.

Also known as the "winter vomiting disease," norovirus is highly contagious and is common at this time of year — particularly in hospitals, long-term care facilities and schools. Symptoms generally last 24 to 36 hours and include chills, cramping, diarrhea, fever and vomiting.