NOROVIRUS cases have risen 40 per cent on the five-year average – sparking fears of a trio of rampant winter viruses to contend with.
During the later summer months the virus was already on the rise, but the latest data shows it’s now growing in numbers larger than usual.
The most recent UK Health Security Agency figures show reports of the nasty bug are up by 37 per cent already, with winter only just starting.
Most of these have been seen in educational settings, so since schools returned.
From the data up to September 26, the UKHSA report said: “Norovirus laboratory reports have been increasing since week 25 of 2021 and during weeks 35 to 38 the total number of reports was 37 per cent higher than the average of the same period in the previous five seasons pre-Covid-19.
“It is possible that further unusual or out of season increases in norovirus activity could be seen in the coming months.”
Government scientists had already warned months rates of the seasonal vomiting and tummy bug could explode from September.
They also feared flu could be particularly bad this year – with a possible 60,000 deaths and more jabs rolled out in preparation – but added norovirus to the list of concerns.
The experts said in a SAGE document: “During the past 18 months, diseases such as influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and norovirus, have been circulating much less in the population than in previous years.
“It is also possible there will be interactions between SARS-CoV-2 and other infections, both in combination and in competition. Any such effects are as yet unknown.”
Because we have all been washing our hands more, wearing masks and staying at home, there has been a drop in colds, flu and other seasonal illnesses spreading.
With lower immunity due to this – and now offices and schools have gone back with no more Covid restrictions – it is thought the NHS could quickly become strained as the service must also deal with coronavirus patients.
Dr Lesley Larkin, Surveillance Lead, Gastrointestinal Pathogens Unit at the UKHSA, said: “Norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, has been at lower levels than normal throughout the pandemic with less opportunity to spread between people in the community but as restrictions have eased we have seen an increase in cases across all age groups.
“As with Covid-19, handwashing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, unlike for Covid-19 alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so soap and warm water is best.”
Most infections of the norovirus occur through contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces, or through… Brinkwire Brief News.