Norovirus: UKHSA give update as reports of the virus more than 75% higher than pre-covid seasonal level
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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that cases of norovirus, also known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ remain “very high”. Cases are high amongst those aged 65 and over and particularly in care home settings.
According to the UKHSA, in weeks 7 and 8 laboratory reports of norovirus were 77% higher than the 5-season average pre-COVID-19 (2014/2015 to 2018/2019) with the highest rates of reporting in those over 65 and also in the under 5 age group. The number of reported outbreaks (all suspected or confirmed as norovirus) remained below pre-pandemic levels during weeks 7 and 8, with reports 31% lower than the 5-season average for the same 2-week period prior to the pandemic.
If you or anyone you know is concerned about symptoms, you are encouraged to contact NHS 111 or talk to their GP by phone or visit the NHS norovirus webpage for more information. You are also reminded to try and not visit healthcare premises if you have symptoms.
Dr Lesley Larkin, surveillance lead, gastrointestinal infections and food safety division at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Outbreaks of norovirus in educational settings have returned to pre-pandemic levels in recent weeks and are currently more than the 5-season average, particularly affecting children in early years. Norovirus levels continue to be very high and most reported cases are in the over 65s, particularly in care home settings.
"Norovirus is very infectious but there are things we can do to stop the spread. Hand gels do not kill norovirus so handwashing with soap and warm water is the best way to prevent the spread. If you or your child gets the virus you should not return to work (particularly if you work with vulnerable people or food) or send your children back to school until 48 hours after symptoms stop. Using bleach-based products to clean surfaces will help stop the virus spreading.
“Anyone unwell with norovirus should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration which, for young children, can result in hospitalisation. Please take care when visiting hospitals and care homes and wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water often. Do not visit these settings while unwell with norovirus symptoms or until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.”
What is Norovirus?
Norovirus is also known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ and can result in cases of vomiting and diarrhoea. In most cases, it passes within two days.
The NHS say that when it comes to recovering from Norovirus, the most important thing is to rest and have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. You will usually start to feel better in 2 to 3 days.
It is recommended that you do not return to school or work until you’ve gone at least two days without vomiting or having diarrhoea. During this time is when you are most likely to spread the bug.