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Just when you thought that 2021 couldn't get any worse, England is now reporting a number of norovirus outbreaks.
According to Public Health England (PHE), there have been over 150 cases of norovirus reported in England since the end of May alone.
This means that infection rates are three times higher than the average over the past five years - the average being around 50 cases for this time of year. Most of those cases have been reported in educational settings like nurseries and other childcare services.
The symptoms of norovirus are well known, and commonly include vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea and fever. All really pleasant stuff, then. Other mild symptoms can include fever, headaches and body aches.
Professor Saheer Gharbia, Deputy Director of PHE's National Infection Service said: "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 water is best."
Latest data show the number of Norovirus outbreaks are higher than average, particularly in early year educational settingshttps://t.co/sDVTbxzi7u
Symptoms are unpleasant but there are 5 simple steps we can all take to beat the bug! https://t.co/OKmh64Cw8G pic.twitter.com/AVp4pPVfcn
- Public Health England (@PHE_uk) July 16, 2021
The NHS says that symptoms will start to appear suddenly within one or two days of being infected with norovirus, but you should start to feel better in two to three days of having the virus.
Treatments for norovirus at home involve drinking lots of fluids to replace fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea. Rehydration powders can also be used to help keep you hydrated.
Fortunately, all the behaviours we've all picked up during the pandemic mean that we're already in the habit of doing preventative things like regularly wiping down surfaces, and singing happy birthday to yourself whilst washing your hands - or is that just me?
It goes without saying that if you do get sick with norovirus, you really shouldn't cook for anyone else for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have disappeared. PHE also says that you should put any contaminated bedding or clothing in the wash as soon as possible.
Experts say the reason that the UK might see such a surge is because we have been living in lockdowns for the last 16 months young children have not been around these viruses before, and haven't developed immunity against them.
There are three main ways to pick up norovirus, and they're pretty familiar to the ways that Covid spreads, too: direct contact with an infected person, consuming contaminated food/water, and touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face.
Norovirus hasn't spread as much in the UK over the past 12 months as it usually would have done, as a result of lockdowns limiting the opportunities the virus has to move from person to person, but as restrictions are eased it's predicted that norovirus cases will increase, and PHE are monitoring the ongoing situation.
If you do become ill, the advice is that the symptoms should not be severe enough for you to need a trip to your GP, but it's advised that you don't go to work or school for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have cleared.
Words: Tom Bedworth
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