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‘Sharp increase’ in cases of the winter vomiting bug

A 20 per cent spike in cases of the winter vomiting bug has put further pressure on already over-stretched hospitals, latest figures show.

NHS England data revealed 5,194 beds were closed in hospitals across the country because of norovirus or diarrhoea and vomiting last week – an average of 742 a day.

This is a ‘sharp increase’ on the 4,349 beds closed in the previous week, at an average of 621 a day. Many beds are likely to have been shut for more than one day.

Cases for the latest seven-day period are the highest in five years, the figures also showed.

Separate statistics released by Public Health England show that nearly 3,000 people have been infected by norovirus so far this winter. 

However, Government officials state the total number of cases recorded this year is still 3 per cent lower than in the previous five seasons. 

A statement from Professor Nick Phin, national infection service deputy director at PHE, declared the outbreak has ‘peaked’ and finally look to be stabilising.

A 20 per cent spike in cases of the winter vomiting bug has put further pressure on already over-stretched hospitals, latest figures show

It comes at time when the health service is already battling its worst flu outbreak in seven years, with 149 known deaths so far this winter.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said NHS staff were left ‘anxious and depressed’ under the strain.

He said: ‘It really is offensive and disingenuous to see the Prime Minister only yesterday remain adamant the NHS was better prepared than ever this winter.

‘The overall mood among healthcare staff is that they remain anxious and depressed and we simply cannot afford a repeat of these dire circumstances again.’ 

Bed occupancy levels are operating at 94.8 per cent – well above the recommended 85 per cent, the NHS England figures showed today.

And there were 11,000 patients forced to wait in ambulance outside A&E units for more than 30 minutes this week, down from 12,600 last week.

Of these, 2,200 patients were left waiting inside an ambulance at A&E for more than an hour, down from 2,600 the previous week. 

Patients are meant to be handed over within 15 minutes of arrival at an emergency department. 

WHAT IS NOROVIRUS AND HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO CLEAR UP?

Norovirus is one of the most common stomach infections in the UK and it is referred to winter vomiting bug as it usually occurs at this time of year.

Usually it clears up by itself within 24 to 48 hours but it can very serious for already frail patients, and can lead to dehydration.

The virus, which can also cause diarrhoea, is extremely contagious and can create huge disruption in hospitals as it spreads so quickly between patients.

But the winter vomiting bug has a tendency to mutate and some strains are worse than others, leading to higher numbers of infections. 

The jump in norovirus cases has been increasing at a steady rate week-on-week since October, but has declined in recent months.

It is one of the most common stomach infections in the UK and it is referred to winter vomiting bug as it usually occurs at this time of year.

Usually it clears up by itself within 24 to 48 hours but it can very serious for already frail patients, and can lead to dehydration.

The virus, which can also cause diarrhoea, is extremely contagious and can create huge disruption in hospitals as it spreads so quickly between patients.

But the winter vomiting bug has a tendency to mutate and some strains are worse than others, leading to higher numbers of infections. 

The latest PHE figures, released today, also show there were 14 outbreaks in hospitals – of which all but one led to ward closures or restrictions.

Professor Phin previously said: ‘Those who get infected with norovirus will usually make a full recovery within one to two days.

‘However, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially in the very young or elderly.

‘Good hygiene is essential to preventing infection. This includes thorough hand washing after using the toilet and before eating or preparing foods.’   



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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