The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) is reporting a 37 percent surge in cases of norovirus compared to pre-Covid levels for the first weeks of January. It warns that ‘unusual norovirus activity’ will continue over the coming weeks.
Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says: “Norovirus is a very unpleasant virus. As its common name, winter vomiting bug, implies, it often causes sickness and diarrhoea. Other symptoms can include a fever, headache and aching arms and legs. Typically, it doesn’t last very long and usually goes away in two to three days, but it can lead to complications.”
“The main reason for this month’s spike in cases is likely to be that immunity against norovirus is fairly short-lived and during the pandemic fewer people were exposed to the virus than normal. Now everyone is mixing again, cases are increasing. This virus spreads very easily and quickly, more so than the other viruses causing illness this winter.”
The ease and speed of norovirus spread makes it something that businesses need to be aware of, as it can have a short but severe impact on operations.
There is straight forward advice that organizations can give employees which help reduce infection levels. As Dr Fivelman explains:
“You can catch norovirus from:
- close contact with someone with the virus
- touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them, then touching your mouth
- eating food that's been prepared or handled by someone with norovirus.
“As with Covid, washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading. However, it’s important to note that alcohol hand gels don’t kill this bug.”