Norovirus warning as vomiting bug cases rise and Brits urged to stay home

A hospital
Norovirus cases are currently higher than expected, according to the UKHSA -Credit:Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Brits are being urged to stay home if they show symptoms of norovirus as the country grapples with a sharp increase in cases.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a stark warning about the rise in infections, noting that the levels of the highly contagious virus are unusually high for this period and have not seen the expected decrease in spring.

The so-called winter vomiting bug is wreaking havoc, leading to severe outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting, reports the Mirror. The UKHSA said confirmed cases of norovirus are an alarming 75 percent higher than the five-year average.

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The post-Covid landscape and the cold weather in May are thought to be contributing to the bug's continued prevalence. Those affected by the virus are being advised to maintain good hygiene practices and to stay away from work if they fall ill.

Amy Douglas, Norovirus Epidemiologist at UKHSA, commented: "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.

"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."

Symptoms of norovirus

The NHS says norovirus is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. While it can be very unpleasant, symptoms usually go away in about two days.

The main symptoms of norovirus are:

  • feeling sick (nausea)

  • diarrhoea

  • being sick (vomiting)

You may also have:

  • a high temperature

  • a headache

  • aching arms and legs

People with symptoms of norovirus should stay home to avoid spreading the virus. The most important thing is to rest and have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration, the NHS says.

Washing your hands frequently is the best way to stop the virus from spreading. However, alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus so you should use soap and water.