Norovirus cases highest in five years

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The number of people testing positive for norovirus infection, the so called “winter vomiting bug,” has reached its highest level for five years, figures from Public Health England have shown.1

The number of laboratory reports of norovirus for this winter season, July to December 2016, was 2602. This is 8% higher than the average number of documented cases (2403) over the five winter seasons from 2011-12 to 2015-16, and it is 66% higher than in the same period last year, although that rate was unusually low.

The hospital norovirus outbreak reporting scheme documented 15 outbreaks of norovirus in hospitals in England over the two weeks before Christmas 2016. Nearly all of these (14/15; 93%) resulted in closures of hospital wards or bays or prompted restrictions on hospital admissions, the highest number (6/15) being reported in the West Midlands.

Public Health England said that data from laboratory reports are subject to delay, so the number of cases of documented norovirus infection in recent weeks is likely to increase as further reports are received.

Nick Phin, National Infection Service deputy director a...