Massive increase in norovirus cases sweeping the country – hospital beds are filling up

Hospital admissions for norovirus have risen dramatically, with an average of 840 adult hospital beds occupied last week by patients who have the infection. Hospital admissions are up 52 per cent compared to the previous week, according to NHS data. In addition, the latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has revealed that norovirus cases are now 47 per cent higher than the five-year pre-Covid average.

Dubbed the “winter fever bug” by the NHS, its main symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Those infected may also have a high temperature, headache, and aching arms and legs.

“Symptoms start suddenly within one to two days of being infected,” the health agency adds.

People most affected by the outbreak fall into two categories: people over the age of 65 and children under the age of five.

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Most people can manage their illness at home by drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, and resting.

While people are strongly advised not to go to work or school to help prevent the spread of the virus, most people make a full recovery within three days.

“Stay off school or work until you have not been sick or had diarrhea for at least two days,” advises the NHS.

Norovirus can spread between people quite easily, especially if an infected person is in close contact with someone else.

Even touching surfaces and objects on which the virus is present can lead to infection if you then put your hands near your mouth, eyes or nose.

“Frequent hand washing with soap and water is the best way to prevent spread,” the NHS adds. “Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus.”

Most norovirus outbreaks have been reported in care homes, which can be tricky.

The UKHSA said: “The elderly, or those with weakened immunity, are at risk of becoming more seriously ill for longer periods of time, which may require medical treatment.

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People who contract the stomach flu are at risk of becoming dehydrated, which is why an infected person needs to drink a lot.

Symptoms of dehydration can include:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Dark yellow, strong-smelling pee
  • Urinating less often than usual
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Feeling tired
  • A dry mouth, lips and tongue
  • Deep set eyes.

“If you feel sick or have been sick it can be difficult to drink, so start with small sips and gradually increase your drinking,” the NHS adds.

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