Winter vomiting bug norovirus is on the rise, warns health experts

·2-min read
Experts have urged the public to be vigilant as cases of norovirus take off in England (PA) (PA Archive)
Experts have urged the public to be vigilant as cases of norovirus take off in England (PA) (PA Archive)

A vomiting bug is on the rise, health experts have warned.

Norovirus, which is highly infectious, can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, sudden onset of nausea and aching limbs.

The bug is normally associated with the winter months but Public Health England has revealed cases of the bug are currently increasing across the country.

Concentration of outbreaks have been noted particularly in nursery and childcare facilities.

PHE said: “it is possible that unusual or out-of-season increases could be seen in the coming months following further easing of Covid-19 control measures.”

There have been more incidents of the bug reported in nursery and childcare facilities than usually would be expected in the summer months.

In the last five weeks, 154 outbreaks have been notified compared to an average of 53 outbreaks for the same time period in the previous five years.

PHE said while young children were affected, there has also been a rise in all age groups.

Professor Saheer Gharbia, deputy director of PHE’s National Infection Service, said: “Norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, has been at lower levels than normal throughout the pandemic with less opportunity to spread between people in the community, but as restrictions have eased we have seen an increase in cases across all age groups.

“Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared.

“As with Covid-19, hand washing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, unlike for Covid-19 alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so soap and water is best.”

People have been advised to wipe commonly used objects such as toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces.

Those who are sick should avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped as norovirus can be spread through contaminated food, PHE said.

While the bedding and clothing of those affected should also be washed at 60C, with disposable gloves used to handle contaminated items, PHE said.

Those showing symptoms should avoid visiting their GP or hospital, but can contact NHS 111 or talk to their GP by phone if they are worried.

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