Nearly three times more people are suffering from the winter vomiting bug in England than at this time last year, according to NHS data released today.
An average of 351 adult hospital beds were occupied last week by patients with diarrhoea and vomiting or norovirus-like symptoms, NHS England says.
It’s nearly three times the average of 126 for the same week in 2022.
Norovirus is the most common infectious cause of vomiting and diarrhoea.
It spreads easily through contact with someone who has the virus or with contaminated surfaces.
While most people make a full recovery within two or three days, the virus can lead to dehydration, especially among the very young, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems.
NHS England says an average of 13 children with the virus were in hospital each day last week, compared with an average of three at the same point in 2022.
The new weekly figures also showed that other cases of seasonal flu are impacting the NHS, with an average of 153 flu patients in general and acute hospital beds each day last week, with seven a day in critical care.
Additionally, 131 children were in hospital with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
These numbers, combined with the fact that an average of 46,201 staff per day were off work sick last week, means the NHS is under mounting pressure going into December.
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NHS national medical director Sir Stephen Powis said: “We all know somebody who has had some kind of nasty winter virus in the last few weeks, and today’s data shows this is starting to trickle through to hospital admissions, with a much higher volume of norovirus cases compared to last year, and the continued impact of infections like flu and RSV in children on hospital capacity – all likely to be exacerbated by this week’s cold weather.
“It is clear that even before we enter December the demand on hospitals and staff is high, with more than 1,200 extra patients in hospital compared to last year, and we know that is likely to grow considerably before Christmas.
“So as ever, the public can also play their part by using services in the usual way – by calling 999 in an emergency and using NHS 111 for other health conditions – and by getting their COVID and flu jabs if eligible.”
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