Norovirus cases up 83%

The number of confirmed cases of norovirus is 83% higher than last season, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

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More than 750,000 people could be affected by norovirus

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has warned that for every confirmed case of the stomach bug, there are likely to be a further 288 unreported sufferers.

There have been 2,630 confirmed cases so far this season, meaning that the real number could be 757,440.

A spokesperson for the HPA said: "Laboratory confirmed reports represent only a small proportion of the actual amount of norovirus activity in the community, because the vast majority of affected people do not access health care services as a result of their illness."

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How to stop the norovirus from spreading

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food.
  • Do not share towels and flannels.
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with the virus. It is best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Wash any clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated with the virus. Wash the items separately and on a hot wash to ensure that the virus is killed.
  • Flush away any infected faeces or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding toilet area.
  • Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce and only eat oysters from a reliable source. Oysters have been known to carry the norovirus.

How to fight against the norovirus

  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • If you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest.
  • Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains.
  • Stay at home and don't go to the doctor, because norovirus is contagious and there is nothing the doctor can do while you have it.
  • However, contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.

Schools close due to norovirus

In the past week, schools from Plymouth to Fife have been forced to close after soaring numbers of children have fallen victim to the highly contagious norovirus.

Earlier this week, at Wimbledon Chase Primary School in south west London, 140 of the 639 pupils were off sick with the bug. Staff said the number was unprecedented.

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Symptoms of norovirus

  • Norovirus symptoms include a sudden onset of vomiting - which can be projectile in nature - and/or diarrhoea - which may be profuse and watery.
  • Some people may also have a temperature, headache and stomach cramps.
  • The illness usually completely resolves in one or two days and there are no long term effects.
  • For most people affected by norovirus it is an unpleasant but short lived illness.
  • There is no specific treatment other than to let the illness run its course, taking plenty of drinks to replace lost fluids.

Winter vomiting bug hits hospitals

Dozens of hospitals have been forced to close their wards - following the recent outbreak of the contagious Norovirus.

Wards have had to close because of the Norovirus Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

In Staffordshire, four wards have been closed to new patients after an outbreak at the countys biggest hospital.

The restrictions mean up to 80 beds at the 1,100-bed University Hospital of North Staffordshire are out of action and unable to take emergency cases from its overstretched A&E unit.

In Scotland, wards at NHS Dumfries and Galloway Infirmary have been closed to new admissions.

The outbreak is the second in a matter of weeks at the hospital, where 38 patients and 14 staff have been affected.

And in Plymouth, three wards have been closed after the bug struck Derriford Hospital.

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