Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Help to stop norovirus spreading

​​There have been twice as many norovirus outbreaks this year.
People are being asked to help stop the spread of the winter vomiting bug across the South West.

Over the past month there have been twice as many community outbreaks of norovirus reported in the South West compared to last year – mainly in care homes, nurseries and schools. 

There have also been more hospital ward closures, and more GP consultations for vomiting, diarrhoea and gastroenteritis than last year.

People are advised to wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water, and dry them after using the toilet, before preparing food and eating. They should not rely on alcohol gels, because these do not kill the virus.

If people do develop symptoms, they should avoid GP surgeries and hospitals to help stop the infection spreading.

Bharat Pankhania, consultant in health protection for Public Health England South West, said: “Across the South West we are seeing more norovirus circulate than last year in care homes, hospitals, schools and nurseries.

“To reduce the risk of catching it, people need to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly, but if they do develop vomiting or diarrhoea, seek advice from a pharmacist or NHS 111.

“Please don’t visit vulnerable family and friends, especially in hospital or in care homes, until at least 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.”

Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages. It is highly contagious and is transmitted by contact with contaminated surfaces, an infected person, or consumption of contaminated food or water.

The symptoms of norovirus are very distinctive. People often report a sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea.

Dr Nigel Acheson, medical director at NHS England South, said: “If you are unfortunate enough to fall ill, there are lots of options for medical treatment or advice without leaving your home and increasing the risk of spreading infection.

“Family and friends can visit the pharmacy on your behalf to obtain free expert advice, along with over-the-counter medicines to help treat symptoms at home.

“If you are concerned, you can contact NHS 111 or talk to your GP by phone – but do not visit the surgery.

“Please remember to keep A&E for serious and life-threatening emergencies only.”​