Norovirus 'vomiting bug' sweeps UK as people told to stay at home and not go to work

A sick young woman holding her head with hand.
A sick young woman holding her head with hand. -Credit:Getty Images

Brits are being urged to stay indoors as a sharp increase in norovirus cases sweeps across the nation. Health authorities have raised concerns, with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issuing a critical alert regarding the rise in norovirus infections.

The UKHSA reports that the levels of this highly infectious virus are unusually high for this season and have not decreased as typically expected during spring.

The winter vomiting bug is wreaking havoc, leading to severe outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting. Alarmingly, confirmed cases of norovirus are currently 75 percent higher than the five-year average, according to data shared by the health agency, as reported by the Express.

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Experts suggest that the lingering effects of the pandemic and the cold weather in May might be contributing to the ongoing prevalence of the virus. To help control its spread, those affected are advised to maintain good hygiene practices and stay away from work.

Amy Douglas, a Norovirus Epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: "Norovirus levels were higher in April than we would usually see at this time of year and have been increasing. This is likely due to a combination of factors, but the colder weather we have had won't have helped," reports the Mirror.

"If you have got diarrhoea and vomiting, you can take steps to avoid passing the infection on. Do not return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped and don't prepare food for others in that time either. If you are unwell, avoid visiting people in hospitals and care homes to prevent passing on the infection in these settings

"Washing your hands with soap and warm water and using bleach-based products to clean surfaces will also help stop infections from spreading. Alcohol gels do not kill norovirus so don't rely on these alone."

Earlier on Friday, May 18, it was reported that a PandO Ventura cruise ship, sailing out of Southampton, had been hit by a widespread outbreak of norovirus. With hundreds of passengers affected, the ship is now under a health agency investigation.

Passengers have reported severe sickness, toilets "covered in excrement", and criticised the cruise operator for its poor handling of the situation. The virus allegedly first broke out six weeks ago, and despite this, several cruises have continued as scheduled.